One has to say, Kings XI Punjab has been a true revelation in this year’s IPL. Even with the well planned team that they bought in the auction in Feb 2014, very few expected them to dominate the points table. And now, when we are at the business end of the 7 th IPL season, they sit pretty at the top of the table, already qualified for the playoffs and look good for the title.
Take a name who has contributed in this huge, unexpected success of Kings XI this year and one name unanimously pops up- Glenn Maxwell. The Australian, who showed glimpses of his talent last year with Mumbai Indians but could never cement his place in the lineup in that star studded team has taken T20 cricket to an another level this year. His immense power coupled with proper cricketing shots has been a joy to watch and for Maxwell, who said that knowing the fact you are a regular in team helps him perform better, it has been his career defining tournament.
I happened to go to Delhi Daredevils vs Kings XI Punjab match in Delhi last Monday. Continuing the last season’s trend, Delhi offered nothing cheerful to its fans (one of them is me) and this match was more about watching Punjab, more specifically, Maxwell bat. Sitting on the top tier towards the square boundary, there are not many who can send the ball that distance. Maxwell is one of them. I was hoping for that.
It never happened. He did not do anything special- hit one six and got out to Imran Tahir’s wrong one. But something else happened that day that I won’t forget ever.
With Delhi’s dismal performance (2 wins out of 12), you can’t really blame the audience if they choose to stay away. But as I said, Maxwell has been a sensation this season. He has tore down almost every bowling attack and chased down targets like 180+ and 200+ with one over remaining. And he was one reason why Ferozhshah Kotla was witnessing a full house that evening.
Toss happened and Delhi decided to bat first. Then the teams were announced. Being Delhi’s home ground, you might not expect lot of cheers for the opposition. But I forgot Veeru (Virender Sehwag), the poster boy of Delhi cricket. There was a pandemonium in the crowd. For a moment, I thought Preity Zinta entered my stand. And then Maxwell happened.
You can go back a long, long way back and still could not name a foreign cricketer who could garner those cheers in India. The moment he entered the field, it was mayhem. The ferociously loyal, highly vocal Indian crowd was shouting, cheering and clapping for a Kangaroo. Glenn Maxwell (or Glenndeep Singh Maxwell, as his Punjabi incarnation would be) is the heart throb of IPL. I could bet a fortune if Maxwell can be cheered this much in Australia. Anyways, nobody can match the decibel levels of the Indians but this was a genuine praise and appreciation for a deserved player.
I am sure Maxwell has never experienced anything of this kind before. Crowd cheering his name, does not matter if they are on Punjab side or the opposition, will be a phenomenon he will never forget. How good this music would have been to his ears- Maxiiiii, Maxi…Maxiiiii, Maxi. And he will be looking forward to IPL 8. We too are, Maxwell although this one is yet to culminate.
And this is why I believe Kings XI has to play him in every game. The place in the qualifiers might have been secured but they cannot deny the audience a chance to witness a pure T20 innings. Full of entertainment and innovation and at the same time, effective. They are obliged to play Maxwell and the guy certainly can’t complain. He is being adored and loved here; it’s payback time
It was fitting that Maxwell entertained the Mumbai crowd last night with his attempt of Bhangra. He responded to them; the fans who keep shouting his name for 180 minutes. His ‘firangi’ bhangra had made millions Indians smile. If you ask me, I got goose bumps. And I am totally clueless about its reasons. I already liked him for his game; now I love him for his modesty.
And before he starts day dreaming; let me warn him.
Make no Glen Maxwell, the day you put on the Australian jersey and you will be up against Indian colors; we won’t recognize you anymore. This cricket is a religion in India and nobody is bigger when it is about nation. You will be loved and cheered for next time around too; on every other day, we don’t know you.
On that note, I would like to say- Welcome to India, Glen Maxwell.