The destructive batsman could determine the fate of Qualifier-2

Glenn Maxwell will, sort of, face a litmus test when his team Kings XI Punjab is pitted against two-time champion Chennai Super Kings in IPL-7’s second qualifier at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. The winner will earn the right to meet Kolkata Knight Riders in the title match at Bangalore.

The 25-year-old from Victoria had been a thorn in the flesh of rival teams in the Emirates leg of this league. More importantly, he was the match-winner against CSK in the matches at Abu Dhabi (95) and Cuttack (90).

The Mohali team’s rise to the top of the table in this year’s league was largely thanks to Maxwell (539, 14 matches) and David Miller (407, 14 matches).

Virender Sehwag, captain George Bailey, Manan Vohra and Wriddhiman Saha also played their part, but the Australian and South African surpassed the others.

Maxwell’s initial clutch of gladiator-like performances with the bat forced bowlers to look for ways to stop him. They managed to keep him in check as evident in his scores of 45, 90, 25, 14, 43, 14, 2, 0 and 6 in the matches played in India.

Dipping form

The dipping form in the last few matches may have shown the vulnerable side to his batting, but CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be on guard and prepared with new tactics to contain Maxwell.

On the eve of the match against MI, CSK coach Stephen Fleming hinted at opening the leg-side, and R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja bowled a leg-stump line, that, as MI coach John Wright said, made things challenging for his batsmen in the eliminator.

Kings XI — thrashed by KKR on Wednesday — has the bowling wherewithal in Sandeep Sharma (17 wickets), Akshar Patel (16), Mitchell Johnson (14), Rishi Dhawan (13) and L. Balaji (12), but the spin department appears a little weak.

An advantage for KXIP is that captain Bailey can avail of ex-MI players Maxwell and Johnson’s knowledge of the Wankhede pitch.

But CSK, which put up a classy display against MI, is also all geared up.

Handling pressure

“The important thing is we have handled pressure really well over the last seven years. When you know you have a captain like Dhoni and a coach like Fleming, it helps. Whoever handles pressure well in T20 wins.

“They (KXIP) have to come and play, they have no time to think. That is one positive for them. We have one more day to analyse our strength and game. Whoever panics is going to lose the battle. We have to go out there and express ourselves, we need to look to start strongly,” said Suresh Raina.

Teams (from):

Kings XI Punjab: Virender Sehwag, Manan Vohra, Wridhiman Saha, Glenn Maxell, David Miller, George Bailey, Akshar Patel, Rishi Dhawan, Mitchell Johnson, Karanveer Singh, L Balaji, Sandeep Sharma, Parvinder Awana, B Hendricks, Shaun Marsh, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mandeep Singh, Shardul Thakur, Shivam Sharma, Anureet Singh, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, M Karthik.

Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Suresh Raina, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Ashish Nehra, Mohit Sharma, Samuel Badree, Ben Hilfenhaus, Matt Henry, B Aparajith, Mithun Manhas, Ishwar Pandey, Pawan Negi, Vijay Shankar, Ronit More, John Hastings.

Match commences at 8 pm.