Cricket 'A strange transition' - Glenn Maxwell trying to get...

‘A strange transition’ – Glenn Maxwell trying to get used to No. 5 role at Kings XI Punjab

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The disparity between Glenn Maxwell’s record for Australia in T20Is with his performances in the Indian Premier League is stark, but the right-hand batsman put it down to having a “clearer role” with Australia as against the frequent changes in his batting position and roles that the changing landscape of various franchises in the IPL demanded. Maxwell averages 33.52 at a strike rate of 158.36 in 64 matches for Australia. In the IPL, while his strike rate has remained up there at 156.78, his average after 76 matches is 22.38.

“I probably would not (compare IPL and Australia career). The way I have played international cricket, it has been more of a clearer role. I know exactly how the guys will bat around me,” he said in a chat with PTI. “My role in IPL changes probably for most games. In IPL, a lot of teams change their sides a lot. In the Australian set-up we have the same eleven for most of the games, we all know our roles really well.”

Maxwell came to IPL 2020 on the back of some good form, having hit 77 and 108 in two matches of the three-ODI series in England, where Australia won 2-1. But he has totalled just 58 runs in seven innings at a strike rate of 95.08 for Kings XI Punjab so far.

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“When you are only together for two months in the year with IPL, there is going to be chopping and changing,” Maxwell said. “You are always looking for that right team balance. The team you pick at the start of the tournament might not have the balance you think as you progress.

“We feel we are getting closer to that (team balance). I have had different experiences where I have not quite performed to the level people expect but there has been no lack of trying, (or) putting the effort in training.”

“My role at the moment is to put the icing on the cake and help our guys in the top four. There have been limited opportunities for me to bat. It has been a learning experience for sure… it is nice to be able to challenge myself with something different”

Maxwell, who has also turned out for Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians in the past, had his best season in the IPL in 2014, hitting 552 runs (strike rate of 187.75) in a man of the tournament performance that took the Kings XI to the final for the first, and so far only, time in their history.

“Despite the fact I did well in 2014, I actually thought my performance in 2017 was my best season,” Maxwell said of the time he made 310 runs in 13 innings at a strike rate of 173.18 for the Kings XI, also taking seven wickets at an economy rate of 6.57. “Being captain, Man of the Match multiple times and I bowled a lot more. I thought that was my best season in the IPL. I was able to combine some match-winning knocks with some mature knocks.”

The following season, he played for Delhi but didn’t have great success. He did not take part in IPL 2019.

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Gautam Gambhir and Tom Moody analyse Mumbai Indians’ win over Kings XI Punjab

The Kings XI batting has been top-heavy not just in terms of runs scored but also balls taken. KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, the opening pair, have aggregated 387 runs and 337 runs respectively so far, at strike rates of 134.84 and 158.96. They have faced 499 balls between them, with Nicholas Pooran a distant third having faced 120 balls. Maxwell has only faced 61 balls, though he has been dismissed four times in those.

“This year has been a different role and I am trying to get used to it,” Maxwell said. “I would like to think that I have tried to do my role as well as I can. We have got Nicky (Pooran) batting unbelievably well at four. With his power-hitting, my job has been to get him on strike and be there to help finish off games.

“I have been not out four times (thrice) in seven games which has probably never happened to me in the history of my career. So, it has been a strange transition for me batting at five and one that I feel, I have started to become more accustomed to.

“With the way the team is set up, there is no position there (higher in the order) for me. As I said, my role at the moment is to put the icing on the cake and help our guys in the top four. There have been limited opportunities for me to bat. It has been a learning experience for sure… it is nice to be able to challenge myself with something different. I certainly have not been too hard on myself for my result in this tournament.”

The Kings XI started the tournament with a Super Over loss to the Delhi Capitals and then beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore, but have since lost five games in a row.

“The wickets have probably surprised me a little bit in terms of the way they have played. I have had a lot of success here in international cricket and even last IPL,” Maxwell said. “The wickets have been a little bit slower. The spin has not been as consistent. It has been probably easier for guys to bat at the top of the order than someone to come out and hit from ball one. It has not been easy and we have seen that consistently through the tournament.

“It has been a tough campaign for us as a team. I would say we were ahead in a lot of those close games but unfortunately came short. It is the hardest to score the winning runs in T20 cricket.”

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