Captain Maxi gets Kings XI off to a flier

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Skipper Glenn Maxwell played an important knock as the Kings XI Punjab put to bed the ghosts of 2016 and started their IPL campaign with a six wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiant.

The Kings XI had done well to restrict RPS to 163 for 6 in their 20 overs critically nipping out in form batsmen Ajinkya Rahane (19) and Steve Smith (26) for relatively little damage.

A fine display of power hitting from England allrounder Ben Stokes (50) got RPS up towards a competitive score before chipping one back to the bowler while Manoj Tiwary played a clever little cameo of 40 not out.

The total owed a lot to a big final over where Dan Christian (17) used a combination of guile and power to hit two fours and a six before holing out to Maxwell and long on with the skipper grasping a tricky low catch.

The pick of the Kings XI bowlers was Sandeep Sharma who bowled well in the powerplay and ended with figures of 2 for 33 despite bowling an expensive final over.

Hashim Amla (28) would anchor the early chase scoring at just over a run a ball while Manon Vohra (14) Wriddhiman Saha (14) and Axar Patel (24) blazed away at the other end.

The top order laid an excellent foundation and finishers Maxi (44 not out) and David Miller (30 not out) performed their task with aplomb.

Imran Tahir was again excellent picking up 2 for 29 in his four overs to be the pick of the RPS bowlers.

Maxwell played a typically aggressive knock striking at over 200 and smashing four sixes as he led his unit to a clinical win that will ignite hopes of a title challenge in Punjab.

Losing skipper Smith said after the match: “Probably wasn’t quite enough. The wicket hardened up a bit, came on a bit nicer in the second innings. Was hard work in the afternoon, wicket was a bit tacky. We needed more, but we did well to get what we got after our start.

“We probably needed to play a bit more aggressively, without fear, should have gone a bit harder. 160 was reasonable, but we probably needed more than that.”

Winning skipper and man of the match Maxwell said after the triumph: “Nice to start off with a new home ground and get some joy. We haven’t had fruitful seasons recently so it was nice.

“It was a clean slate for the team, we came with blank minds and had plans for all their batsmen. We can’t control the past, only the future. We practiced well and got around 230 in one of the practice games, so it felt nice to restrict them to 163. It’s better to chase here, to know how to pace it and keep wickets in the back end.”