Glenn Maxwell is on a roll. The Australian batsman continued with his incredible batting, blasting a 38-ball 90, as Kings XI Punjab scored a comprehensive 44-run victory over Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League match, in Cuttack, on Wednesday night.
The highest run-scorer this season, with 435 from seven matches, he hammered the Chennai bowlers into submission as Punjab amassed 231 for 4 -- the highest total of IPL-7 thus far -- after his side was put in to bat at the Barabati stadium.
Chasing the mammoth target, Chennai, which boasts of one of the best batting line-ups this season, could only score 187 for six and slumped to their second defeat.
Their other defeat was also against the same opponents, with Maxwell hitting a 43-ball 95 in Punjab's six-wicket victory on April 18 in the UAE leg, in Abu Dhabi.
Chennai suffered a jolt in the first over itself, as in-form opener Dwayne Smith was out for just four.
The other opener, Brendon McCullum (33), and Suresh Raina (35) kept Chennai in with a slim chance with a 51-run stand for the second wicket but they failed to keep pace with the asking rate, which shot up to nearly 15 per over by the half-way mark.
Ravindra Jadeja (17) departed just after the halfway mark while McCullum was run-out thanks to a brilliant piece of fielding by Mitchell Johnson, whose running direct throw broke the wicket.
By then, it was all over for Chennai, as they needed 113 runs from the last five overs.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (23) and Faf du Plessis (52) delayed the inevitable with a 61-run stand for the fifth wicket, but Chennai finally found themselves outclassed by a rival team for the second time in the tournament.
With this victory, Punjab jumped to the top of the league table with 12 points from seven matches.
Chennai also have the same number points from eight matches but Punjab are on top on better net run-rate.
Punjab’s victory also snapped Chennai's six-match winning streak in the IPL-7.
In sum, though, it was a Maxwell show all the way in the clash of the table toppers. The 25-year-old Australian hit six fours and eight sixes, including three off reverse hits, as his side put up the fifth highest total in IPL history.
Save Mohit Sharma (2-15), all the Chennai bowlers were punished heavily, Ishwar Pandey (0-41), Dwayne Smith (1-36), Ravindra Jadeja (0-37) and Ravichandran Ashwin (0-38) being at the receiving end.
Maxwell stitched 135 runs with David Miller (47 off 32 balls) for the third wicket from just 10.4 overs after the duo came together in the sixth over at 38 for two.
They added a phenomenal 88 runs in the five overs after the halfway mark, scoring 17, 14, 21, 18 and 14 each over with the 100-run partnership between Maxwell and Miller coming up in just 8.4 overs.
Punjab added an incredible 162 runs in the second half of their innings, with captain George Bailey chipping in with a 13-ball 40 not out cameo towards the end to take his side to the fifth highest total in IPL history.
Earlier, opener Virender Sehwag (30) began with a bang by hitting the first ball of the innings. He hit three fours off Ishwar Pandey in second over to give Punjab a flying start.
His opening partner, Mandeep Singh, who replaced Cheteshwar Pujara at the top for this match, was out for just three off the bowling of Mohit Sharma in the fifth over while trying for an unnecessary shot.
Sehwag was nonplussed even after the departure of his opening partner in the sixth over and hit Mohit for a four the next ball. But just when it looked like he had returned to his explosive best, he was out next over off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus.
The out-of-favour former India opener dabbed at a good length delivery with an angled blade and Hilfenhaus’s delivery nipped back to take the inside edge, hit the pads and cannon onto the stumps.
Sehwag once again got the start but failed to convert it to a big score in this IPL.
Then the in-form Maxwell and Miller took over and the duo hit a flurry of fours and sixes, with Ashwin being at the receiving end of their fury.
Maxwell smashed Ashwin for three sixes while Miller did the same once as the off-spinner conceded 38 runs from two overs.
Image: Glenn Maxwell