Glenn Maxwell walking in at No. 3 allows him few more deliveries to smash. With the form that he is in, even the start of the match seems like death overs when he goes after the bowlers © PTI
Glenn Maxwell walking in at No. 3 allows him few more deliveries to smash. With the form that he is in, even the start of the match seems like death overs when he goes after the bowlers © PTI

Glenn Maxwell walked in at No. 3 against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) the other day and stunned them with his blitzkrieg. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes that Kings XI Punjab should persist with Maxwell at No 3 for the rest of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014.

 

One man’s bravado can rub-off on an entire side. Kings XI Punjab have been bolstered by Glenn Maxwell’s mind-boggling heroics at Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. When he smashed 95 in the first game against Chennai Super Kings, he laid the foundation of a belief that has been absorbed by the whole team. Here is a side that is playing in the personality of this young bloke — who is inventive, fearless and destructive. It is with that belief that Punjab march forward in the IPL 2014, waiting to qualify into the second round for the first time since 2008.

 

For a major part of the tournament, the No 4 slot has been Maxwell’s as he comes in there and starts smashing it around. However, during the last game against Chennai, he was promoted to No 3, a move that caught Chennai off guard and threw their plans in disarray. What it did was that it allowed Maxwell to play a few deliveries and get his eye in. He could afford a look before that lethal surge post the 10th over. Batsmen like him can take a few deliveries as they can make-up for it in no time as the game progresses.

 

Wriddhiman Saha was their preferred No 3 batsman and he did a decent job against the Mumbai Indians. He did start slowly, but then caught up well. However, when a guy like Maxwell walks in at the fall of the first wicket, the opposition invariably goes onto the backfoot and focuses their attention on getting him out. At times it may work, but given the form Maxwell is in, one would back him to come good on majority occasions. Punjab have to back their plan and persist with him at No 3 as he can get his eye in and then plan his thunderous assault with David Miller and company.

 

 

The other major change Punjab made during their game against Chennai was that they brought in Mandeep Singh in place of Cheteshwar Pujara. It was fascinating that Mandeep, who was the Rising Star of the 2012 season, and one of Punjab’s key performers in the previous two additions, did not find a place in the side. In fact, Manan Vohra, the youngster who was retained by them also failed to make the cut. They backed the solidity of Pujara, who did decently well in a game or two, but couldn’t build his innings.

 

Mandeep has played some crucial knocks for Punjab in previous seasons and is a more aggressive player when compared to Pujara. Virender Sehwag is gradually getting back into form and needs someone at the other end who can take the pressure off him. While Pujara is someone who could hold the innings together, Punjab were perhaps a bit concerned about the rate of scoring runs. Which is why, Mandeep’s addition makes sense and he may also complement Sehwag well. Although, he did not perform in his first game, he should be backed for a few games and given a run in the side.

 

At this stage, Punjab look pretty at the top, but it is imperative that they maintain their intensity. A side on a roll can have moments of complacency which may cost them a few games. However, in a long tournament like the IPL, it is also important to peak at the right time and if you do get to that mark early, then sustain it long enough to take you all the way. Here is where Punjab enter a tricky zone as they have to maintain those high standards in the coming games. And yes, as they say, one has to raise the bar!

 

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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)