The enthusiastic crowd in Abu Dhabi witnessed Glenn Maxwell make an explosive transition from being a bench warmer to a game changer in the Indian Premier League on Friday as he fell agonizingly short of slamming the first century of IPL 2014. Chasing 206, Kings XI Punjab were in dire straits, having lost three early wickets. However, Maxwell combined with David Miller -- one of the two players retained by Kings XI Punjab -- to first steer Punjab out of trouble and then put them on track to cause a massive upset, as they chased down 206 with seven balls to spare and six wickets remaining in the end. (Scorecard | Highlights | Report)
Maxwell's 43-ball knock of 95 was laced with 15 fours and 2 sixes as the right-handed big-hitter sent the Chennai bowlers on a leather hunt.
Maxwell began in typical fashion with a reverse sweep that pierced his off-side field and raced away to the fence. The fall of a wicket at the other end did not seem to have an impact on Maxwell's approach as he collected three boundaries off the very next over from Mohit Sharma.
Just when Maxwell had begun to settle down for a big innings, he gave Chennai an easy opportunity to clip his wings. A mistimed reverse hit went straight to Ashish Nehra at short third man but to his team's horror, Nehra let the ball slip through his fingers. A couple of overs later, Maxwell brought up his maiden IPL half-century and was far from done as Punjab took the chase till the very end.
Maxwell completely tore apart Pawan Negi in the 13th over, slamming three fours and a six to put MS Dhoni & Co. in an uncomfortable position. In fact, he was looking set to hit the winning runs for Kings XI Punjab in what ended as a memorable win for the team. However, a well-directed yorker from Dwayne Smith uprooted Maxwell's leg stump to bring an end to his splendid knock.