Glenn Maxwell was left “shattered” after falling just short of hitting a match-tying six off the final ball as his Kings XI Punjab side lost by two runs to Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
Needing 14 off the last over and yet to face a ball having only just come in at No.5, Maxwell’s renowned finishing made victory a possibility for Kings XI as they chased down the Knight Riders’ 6-164.
Hopes of chasing down the target were raised when Maxwell struck a boundary off the second ball of Sunil Narine’s final over.
Yet Narine’s canny bowling ensured that six were still needed off his last ball to tie the scores, and Maxwell’s final blast over the covers landed just inside the boundary.
Narine was later reported for a “suspected illegal bowling action” during the match. Under the IPL’s regulations, Narine is now placed on a “warning list” and is allowed to continue to bowl in the tournament, but a second report would see him suspended until his action is cleared by the BCCI.
Maxwell finished with 10 runs from the five balls he faced, compounding what has already been a frustrating season in which his highest score from seven innings is 13 not out.
Amid rumours he was set to be dropped for veteran West Indies opener Chris Gayle, Maxwell was also targeted by former star Virender Sehwag in the Indian media.
Criticising his low scores earlier in the tournament, Sehwag, a former Kings XI coach, said he “can’t quite understand (Maxwell’s) mindset because it’s been the same story every year”.
“He gets sold in the auction for a hefty price but the result remains the same. Yet, people (franchises) run after him. This is something I don’t understand,” Sehwag told Cricbuzz.
“In the next auction, I think his price will drop. It has to be kept in mind that he scored his last half-century in 2016.”
Kolkata had earlier recovered well from a slow start through captain Dinesh Karthik’s flashy 29-ball knock of 58 to post their beatable target.
Punjab appeared to be cruising at 1-136, needing just 29 runs off the last four overs but Kolkata stormed back as fast bowler Prasidh Krishna took 3-29 and Narine 2-28 to hand Punjab their fifth consecutive loss.
“Sunil Narine stands up for us a lot of the time. He is calm, he is always looking to find the best way to contribute to the team,” said Karthik.
Halfway through the league stage, Punjab have only a solitary victory from seven games and are bottom of the table, while Kolkata are in the upper half.
Captain Lokesh Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, who made 56, gave Punjab a solid start of 114 but once Krishna provided the opening in the 15th over by dismissing Agarwal, Punjab’s brittle top-order batting line-up yet again slipped against some quality bowling.
Krishna took the game away from Punjab in the 19th over by claiming two wickets, including the crucial dismissal of Rahul, who top-scored with 74 off 58 balls after getting dropped in only the second over by Andre Russell.
“I have no answers, we just need to keep coming harder in the next seven games,” said Rahul, who has been the lone batting star for Punjab with three half-centuries and a century.
Kolkata struggled to 2-60 after 10 overs before Karthik ensured he had enough runs on the board to defend by hitting eight fours and two sixes.
Karthik dominated the 82-run, fourth-wicket stand with Shubman Gill, who made a defiant 57 off 47 balls before both were run out in the death overs.
In the later game in Dubai, Virat Kohli produced a masterclass, hammering an unbeaten 90 off 52 balls as his Royal Challengers Bangalore side amassed 4-169 and then reduced the Chennai Super Kings to 8-132 to run out easy 37-run winners.
Bangalore’s Aaron Finch made only two before captain Kohli came to the crease while the in-form Shane Watson was dismissed for 14 in the Super Kings’ run chase.