Catch up with how the Australian names have gone in the opening stages of this year’s IPL
Last year’s IPL was a forgettable one for Glenn Maxwell as he tallied just 108 runs in 11 innings for the Punjab Kings – without hitting a single six – and was subsequently let go. That did not stop him fetching a huge price this time around with the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the contrast has been stark already. In three innings he has 176 runs, playing a key role in each of three wins to open RCB’s campaign. They made heavy weather of the chase against the Mumbai Indians after Maxwell’s 39 off 28 ended, then his 59 off 41 was the standout innings in a low-scorer against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. On Sunday he found top gear with 78 off 49 balls against the Kolkata Knight Riders although that was somewhat overshadowed by AB de Villiers’ onslaught. Could this actually be the RCB’s year?
Can Warner turn Sunrisers around?
It’s a long tournament so teams have time to bounce back, but David Warner has a few problems at the Sunrisers after they started with three defeats in a row. They have been in promising, or strong, positions in all three of their chases before falling short. In second of those losses they somehow failed to chase 150 against RCB despite Warner’s half-century taking them to 96 for 1 in the 14th over. Then against Mumbai, Warner and Jonny Bairstow put on 67 in 7.2 overs for the first wicket chasing 151 only for things to again fall in a heap with Warner run out in the 12th over when he was beaten by Hardik Pandya’s direct hit. “It’s just poor batting,” Warner said. “You just need smart cricket in the middle. At the moment we haven’t been able to produce that.”
Lynn makes an appearance, but just one
Chris Lynn spent the whole 2020 edition on the bench for the Mumbai Indians but was one of the names somewhat surprisingly retained. This time, with Quinton de Kock serving his pre-tournament quarantine having arrived from South Africa, he was named in the XI for the opening match against RCB and started well with 49 off 35 balls. Although there is a big gap involved, Lynn has passed 40 in eight of his last 11 IPL innings stretching back to 2019. That, for now, has been his lot though. With de Kock available for Mumbai’s second game, Lynn was forced out of the side and back to that familiar position on the bench.
Quicks have mixed fortunes
Last year Pat Cummins picked up just three wickets in his first 10 matches, so he’s already well ahead this time with four scalps in three games for KKR. Against RCB, there was a good contest with Australia team-mate Maxwell who took him for 19 runs before Cummins succeeded with the short ball off his final delivery. Elsewhere, Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith have had some punishment for the Punjab Kings: they conceded 104 in their eight overs against the Rajasthan Royals, although Richardson’s slower-ball inswinger to get Jos Buttler was an excellent delivery and they won the game. They couldn’t do much to defend just 107 against the Chennai Super Kings and were on the receiving end in another high-scoring game against the Delhi Capitals but did take three of the four wickets. Overall they have conceded 222 runs from 21 overs.
Sams’ tough start
Daniel Sams has had a rough start to his time in India. Shortly after arriving, he tested positive for Covid-19 on April 7 and had to go into isolation. “A bit lonely,” was how his agent summed things up to the Age. On Saturday, it was confirmed that he had now tested negative and passed the various protocols to enter the RCB bubble, although having been confined to a room for so long and not being able to train for nearly two weeks it remains to be seen when he will be up to match fitness should RCB want to consider him.
Where was Smith’s footwork better?
The less said about Steven Smith’s dancing probably the better, but for most of the first week that was about as active as he had been. As suspected, he did not find a spot in the Capitals’ starting XI when the tournament began and it was something of a surprise when he was brought in to replace Tom Curran to face the Punjab Kings on Sunday. It ended up being a sedate start as he nudged his way to 9 off 12 balls before an ugly back at fellow Australian Meredith found third man.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo