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Maxwell, Miller sparkle as Punjab down Chennai

AFP

ABU DHABI: A successful chase of a target in excess of 200 is normally furious, full of power and towering shots. Glenn Maxwell and David Miller did it differently for Punjab. They hit only five sixes – three of those after the 15th over, by which time Punjab were firm favourites – and turned the game during a 115-run stand that was driven by Maxwell’s surgical placement and Miller’s calm supporting act. Chennai were overtaken with seven balls to spare. Maxwell and Miller’s clinical middle-order partnership came after Chennai’s new openers batted as though powered by rocket-fuel. Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith also scored half-centuries and ransacked 123 in 12.4 overs, but their fierce partnership was not the best batting effort on a scorching Abu Dhabi afternoon.Chasing 205, Punjab had slipped to 52 for 3 in 5.1 overs. Three Indian batsmen had been dismissed – Virender Sehwag, Cheteshwar Pujara and Akshar Patel – and the game hinged on how Maxwell, Miller and George Bailey would fare. Not one to waste time, Maxwell countered R Ashwin’s wide-outside-leg line from round the wicket by reverse-swatting his first ball to the point boundary. That set the tone for an innings filled not only by such unorthodoxy – there were several more reverse swats pulls – but also with textbook drives and perfectly-timed pushes between mid-off and cover. On 37, Maxwell reverse-swept Ravindra Jadeja but the top edge was fluffed by Ashish Nehra at short third man, and on 77 the substitute Samuel Badree put down a chance at deep square leg. Miller also had a let-off – on 17, two balls after Maxwell’s first reprieve – but it was a much tougher chance that Faf du Plessis put down at short cover.Punjab needed 113 off 60 balls and took 23 runs off the next two overs. The 13th over from spinner Pawan Negi was the turning point, when Maxell found the legside boundary three times and the cover boundary once to take 22 runs off it. The equation had been hacked to 68 off 42 balls, and Chennai suffered a crippling blow in the next over when Dwayne Bravo dived to try and catch a Maxwell reverse-pull – in vain – and went off the field to nurse an injured right shoulder. MS Dhoni had lost a key death bowler. After Maxwell was bowled for 95, Miller stepped up, carting Ravindra Jadeja for two consecutive sixes in the 17th over to ensure Punjab did not trip close to victory.Summarised scores:Punjab 206-4 (Maxwell 95, Miller 54; R Ashwin 2-41, A Nehra 1-24) beat Chennai 205-4 (McCullum 67, Smith 66; L Balaji 2-43, A Patel 1-34) by six wickets. 

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