Kings XI Punjab, such is the confidence of the team at the moment, they make a target of 206 look like 136, and that too against one of the best bowling teams in IPL 2014 – Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Glenn Maxwell was not the star of the chase, only one of the many minions of this seemingly unstoppable Kings XI batting lineup, as the top team in IPL 2014 finished on 211 for five in 18.4 overs with ridiculously consummate ease.
SRH would have thought they had a win sealed after piling on 205 for five in their 20 overs, thanks to brilliant knocks from Naman Ojha, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan.
However, Manan Vohra (47, 20b, 5x4, 2x6), remember him?, and Wriddhiman Saha (54, 26b, 8x4, 2x6) smoked the SRH opening bowlers in stunning fashion at the top, before Maxwell (43), David Miller (24 n.o.) and George Bailey (35 n.o.) did the rest to take their side home.
KXIP jumped back to the top of the table with their 15th and 16th points of IPL 2014, while SRH are still searching for that winning run to take them to the playoffs, currently on eight points after 10 matches.
SRH would have walked into the second innings with the plan of getting Virender Sehwag out early in mind, and thus putting a little pressure on Maxwell – like that is even possible – and the rest of the KXIP batsmen.
The first part of the plan worked perfectly well, with Sehwag sent packing by Bhuvneshwar Kumar in just the second ball of the innings. The second aspect of the plan went haywire, however, with KXIP batsmen forgetting about the importance, need or the purpose of singles or twos, instead choosing to just thump every single bowler, Dale Steyn included, to boundary, six, boundary, and then a couple more sixes, before being followed by a few more boundaries – you get the drift.
It was not Maxwell who came in at No.3 and went nuts, though, with Saha, someone you never quite think of as a T20 batsman, and Vohra, finally getting a game after being one of only two players to be retained by Kings XI at the start of the season, making the SRH bowlers look like schoolboys who had suddenly found themselves transported into the big leagues.
Vohra and Saha played some wonderful cricketing shots, making full use of the fielding restrictions in the first six overs, as SRH were toasted for 86 runs in the Powerplay, the highest in IPL 2014.
Saha was finally dismissed by Karn Sharma, who got the ball past the batsman for Ojha to complete a simple stumping, in over number eight, while Vohra also was walking back to the pavilion a couple of overs later, run out in the most unlucky manner, caught out of his crease after Bhuvneshear got a little touch to deflect the ball, struck back hard by Maxwell, onto the stumps.
It mattered little, however, as Maxwell, whose first three scoring shots were sixes, and massive ones at that, and Miller creamed the bowlers to take the game to the brink, bringing the run rate, at over ten runs an over at the start of the innings down to near six.
Maxwell (43, 22b, 2x4, 5x6) fell in the 14th over, with KXIP needing just 47 runs, holing out to Dale Steyn in the deep off Amit Mishra, who breathed a sigh of relief after finally getting his man – Mishra had dismissed Maxwell in the 11th over, with Steyn again taking a catch off a mistimed show, but the leg-spinner had committed the cardinal sin of bowling a no-ball, the second time this season Maxwell has received a similar reprieve against SRH.
All Maxwell's wicket managed to achieve was bring down the entertainment value just that notch lower, as Miller (24, 24b, 1x4) and captain Bailey (35, 19b, 2x4, 3x6) saw their side home comfortably enough.
Earlier, it was not any of the big three of the Sunrisers batting lineup that went "slam-bang thank you ma'am there goes another six out of the ground", with Naman Ojha coming to the party in some style.
Dhawan, in desperate need of runs, and Aaron Finch gave SRH a steady start, putting on 65 in eight overs. The platform was laid, and Finch (20, 23b, 2x4) looking to just up the ante, perished, castled by the impressive Shivam Sharma (one for 31).
Ojha was sent in at No.3 and boy did he make full use of the promotion, striking the white ball as clean as you can witness from ball one. All shots played by the wicketkeeper/batsman were good cricketing shots, with strikes straight back over the bowlers, and there were plenty of that, particularly catching the eye.
Dhawan (45, 37b, 5x4, 2x6), very much the aggressor in the opening partnership, fell five runs short of a half-century in the first ball of the 12th over, with the left-hander clipping a leg-side delivery straight to Shivam Sharma at short fine leg off namesake Rishi Dhawan.
If KXIP thought they were going to tighten the noose with that wicket, they were in for a bit of a surprise as Warner and Ojha struck gold with sixes and fours raining in Hyderabad.
It was not as spectacular as the second innings batting show -- but then very few teams can match that -- it was pretty impressive nonetheless.
Ojha (79 n.o., 36b, 4x4, 7x6) and Warner (44, 23b, 3x4, 3x6) put on 81 in just seven overs, with the latter's needless run out in the penultimate over not curbing the former's enthusiasm as Sandeep Sharma, one of the better bowlers in IPL 2014, had a game to forget, and then some, conceding 65 runs in his four overs
SRH scored 133 runs in the last ten overs, with 78 coming from the last five, but it still wasn't enough to even come close to stopping the Kings XI juggernaut.