Glenn Maxwell has been the star man for Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2014 © PTI
With four scores between 89 and 95 so far in Indian Premier League (IPL) 7, Glenn Maxwell has been the undisputed holder of the orange cap, and the main contributor to the most successful campaign by far for the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) to date. Shiamak Unwalla analyses his unique brand of batsmanship.
Glenn Maxwell scored a typically belligerent 90 off just 38 balls against the table-toppers at the time, Chennai Super Kings (CSK), in their match on Wednesday. This was the second time in two games against them that he crossed 90. In their first match, he had hit 95 off 43 deliveries to help KXIP chase down 205 with an over to spare.
In every edition of the IPL so far, there has been that one batsman who has looked in a different league altogether. Shaun Marsh, Matthew Hayden, Sachin Tendulkar, and Chris Gayle (for a whopping three seasons on the trot!) have all gone through a season where they have looked unconquerable. Marsh played with the sort of elegance that few would have ever expected in cricket’s shortest format. Hayden brought out all his trademark pulls, slogs and sweeps to dominate the bowling. Tendulkar played like only he can, mixing silken drives with sudden slog-sweeps to devastating effects. Gayle unleashed his swats over midwicket almost at will, to dominate the IPL bowlers for three years in a row.
But Maxwell stands out from this illustrious list. He has an uncomplicated way to go about his batting that reminds one of a younger Virender Sehwag. He seems to be cut from the same cloth as ‘Viru,’ and goes about his business in a very similar way. If Glenn Maxwell sees that the ball is in his hitting zone, he will hit it. It’s just that simple. When he goes out to bat, he knows what his role is: to score as many runs as he can as quickly as he can. It doesn’t matter if he’s chasing 205 or if he’s batting first. Maxwell always plays in top gear, and he has the confidence and backing by his skipper to keep doing that.
Here credit should be given to George Bailey, who has captained the side commendably. While most teams would have used Maxwell at No 6 or No 7 as a pinch hitter, Bailey has used him either at No 3 or at No 4 as a proper batsman whose job is to score quickly. Perhaps Gautam Gambhir could take a lessor or two from this, and start utilising the services of Suryakumar Yadav a little better.
Two shots from Maxwell’s arsenal stand out: his down-on-one-knee slog over midwicket and his reverse-sweep/ reverse-pull. Now, most Indian batsmen struggle to not get out while pulling. Watching Maxwell reverse-pull a ball for a six like he’s been doing it for years must be a bit of a slap on their faces. Maxwell has an uncanny ability to hit sixes with these shots off balls bowled almost anywhere. He proved this by bashing R Ashwin for multiples sixes over midwicket when the ball was bowled on the off stump, and reverse sweeping the balls bowled on and around leg for sixes over point and third man. Against Dwayne Smith, he played the reverse-pull twice in one over.
Maxwell is an unpretentious batsman. He has tremendous confidence in himself, and the ability to remain uncomplicated in his batting. He doesn’t try to do too much except hit the ball all over the park, and Kings XI Punjab are riding on the back of his huge scores. If he can sustain this simplistic approach to batting, he could well become a T20 legend.
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(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)