Kings XI Punjab batsman Glenn Maxwell was unlucky to miss out on another hundred, falling in the 90's for the third time in this year's Indian Premier League, when Chennai Super Kings' Mohit Sharma had him caught for a 38-ball 90 by Ravindra Jadeja at deep midwicket. (Scorecard | Highlights)
Maxwell blasted six fours and eight sixes and plundered his runs at a strike rate of 236.84, laying the platform for Kings XI's massive against the Super Kings. The right-handed batsman planned his innings with the guile of a seasoned pro, holding back to take on the off-spin of R Ashwin.
Chennai skipper MS Dhoni did not unleash Ashwin in the powerplay as he usually does, allowing his star bowler to come on only in the 11th over. But Maxwell was ready for him, pounding the offie for two sixes in his first over before upping the ante in his second, hammering two sixes and two fours to take the wind out of Chennai's sails.
Maxwell was unlucky to fall short by five runs against the Super Kings when the two sides clashed in Abu Dhabi in Paril, but he looked on course for triple figures tonight before another selfless act crushed his dreams. Maxwell came in to bat at number three after Mandeep Singh departed and decided to bide his time, even as Virender Sehwag and then David Miller exploded against the hapless CSK bowlers.
Miller, who shared a 135-run third wicket stand off 10.4 overs with Maxwell and has been involved in two other big stands with the mercurial Australian, said: "I don't really say much in a partnership with Maxwell, he just says I'm going again and I just and watch. That's his plan, he goes hard and he's done really well so far."
Miller revealed that Maxwell and him were targeting a score in the vicinity of 210 but captain George Bailey's magnificent offensive, when he smoked 40 off 13 balls turned the scales towards a much more comprehensive 231/4.
Maxwell had got off to a sensational start this year, slamming 95 against CSK, following it up with 89 against Rajasthan Royals before hammering another 95 against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The 25-year-old Australian had last year become Mumbai Indians' surprise million-dollar baby but he did not get many games with the eventual champions of 2013.
Released by Mumbai, KXIP wasted no time, bringing Maxwell on board as he became key to a power-packed batting line-up which now consists of Virender Sehwag, George Bailey and Miller, who clobbered 47 off 32 balls on Thursday.
Maxwell now has 435 runs from seven games this season and sits comfortably on top of the table, with Dwayne Smith at a distant second on 339 runs, having scored just four before falling early in Chennai's innings.