Express News Service
CHENNAI: Even before the IPL auction in February, stars had aligned for Glenn Maxwell. That Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore – the eventual settlement for the all-rounder – would go big for him at the auction might have come as a surprise, but there was more to it.
Despite Maxwell tallying only 169 and 108 runs in his last two IPL seasons in 2018 and 2020, the two franchises believed in a different set-up. Without the burden of being the face of their overseas recruit, the Australian, they believed, could thrive.
Bangalore, especially, believed his close proximity to captain Virat Kohli and the feeling of making him wanted would do a world of good for a player, who had had mental health issues not so long ago.
From the moment, Bangalore bought him at the auction spending Rs 14.25 crore, they not only placed faith on him, but believed that in a team also having Kohli and AB de Villiers, there would be less pressure on Maxwell.
To place that kind of faith on a player who hadn’t crossed fifty in his last two IPL editions was a big punt. But it was the sort of trust that make players like Maxwell feel at home. The arrival of Sanjay Bangar as batting consultant, under whom Maxwell tallied 552 runs, also shouldn’t be overlooked. Bangalore have done all that they can to make him feel valuable.
“The most important thing is he looks happier. Generally as a sportsperson you would like to be in a good space where you are enjoying the time with your teammates, you feel confident about your own game. In order to feel confident, you need to prepare well and I think Maxi has prepared well. He also had a strong series against New Zealand before the IPL,” said De Villiers who scored 76 on Sunday.
“Lot of things have added up. Think he always wanted to be at RCB and he had mentioned it a few times. All in all, he looks happy. The two of us have had nice chats about life in general, his Aussie team, his dreams moving forward and what he wants to achieve,” he said.
“We have played at such a high level that we are not going tell each other what we have to do out there anymore. Here he feels Virat, myself, the support staff and teammates back him. We know he has got extra-ordinary talent and to blossom, somoene must be in a happy space that he is in now,” he added.
Maxwell knows his isn’t the first overseas name on the team list at RCB, something he hasn’t been accustomed to. Perhaps it was a load too much to take for Maxwell, whose game is either blow hot or cold.
On Sunday when he walked into the middle in the third over against Kolkata Knight Riders, Bangalore were in a spot of bother thanks to Varun Chakravarthy’s twin strikes in his first over on a Chepauk pitch were the ball came on to the bat nicely for a change.
RCB’s decision to hold back De Villiers meant, instead of carrying on with Varun, Kolkata held him back. It allowed Maxwell to not only to find his groove, but wrestle the momentum back from Kolkata. By the time Varun came back in the eighth over, Maxwell, well and truly in, hit him for a six and a four.
Kolkata didn’t come prepared for Maxwell. They would have done their homework for Kohli, De Villiers, but not Maxwell However, it lasted 49 deliveries, by which time the Australian had 78 to his name, his second-successive fifty in this edition. “In the past, we didn’t have to bother much about the planning as he hadn’t been in top form,” KKR coach Brendon McCullum admitted.
“But it appears he has come with a refreshed attitude and wants to hit the ball far from ball one. He has taken the game on and we have seen him be successful at the Big Bash and for Australia with same kind of attitude. He is confident at the moment, he clearly took the game away from us at a crunch time when we were on top,” he said.