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Maxwell & Miller make short work of big target

- KXIP pull off a six-wicket victory vs CSK
David Miller, on way to his unbeaten 54, on Friday

Abu Dhabi: A blazing 115-run stand between David Miller and Glenn Maxwell helped Kings XI Punjab pull off a sensational six-wicket win over formidable Chennai Super Kings in their opening Indian Premier League match, on Friday.

Maxwell hammered 95 off 43 balls while Miller made an unbeaten 54 off 37 to propel their team past Super Kings’ imposing 205 for four, with seven balls remaining, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.

Virender Sehwag (19 off 10) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13 off 10) started Punjab’s chase aggressively before departing in quick succession. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who trapped Pujara in front of the stumps, earned his second leg before by foxing Akshar Patel (2), leaving Punjab at 53 for two in the sixth over.

That brought together two of the world’s dangerous batsman in the middle — the big-hitting Miller from South Africa and the innovative Maxwell of Australia.

The deadly duo did not disappoint as they took the Chennai Super Kings bowlers to the cleaners. Maxwell scored the bulk of the runs in their 63-ball stand and was also at his cheeky best.

The Australian all-rounder enthralled the crowd with his switch hits and hoicks over mid-wicket. Like Miller, who was dropped off Ravindra Jadeja in the ninth over, Maxwell also had luck on his side. The result could have been different had the Australian not been dropped twice.

His whirlwind innings included 15 fours and a couple of sixes before he missed a Dwayne Smith yorker in the 16th over with Punjab still needing 39 off 26 balls.

Miller got into the groove after Maxwell’s fall and got his side closer to the target by smashing Ravindra Jadeja for two consecutive sixes. With captain George Bailey (17 not out off 10) at the other end, Punjab eventually strolled to a morale boosting victory.

Earlier, CSK kicked off their IPL VII campaign with a flurry of fours and sixes as Brendon McCullum (67 off 45) and Smith (66 off 43) hit blazing half-centuries.

An entertaining 123-run opening-wicket partnership between McCullum and Smith, and a 26 off 11 balls by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni towards the end ensured they posted a mammoth score on a good batting surface. The final over saw 18 runs being scored.

The innings started with a bang and the fifth over saw McCullum and Smith accumulating 18 runs. The over proved costly for KXIP as Smith hit two consecutive boundaries before Bailey dropped the dangerous McCullum off pacer Parvinder Awana on 22.