It’s Aussie versus Aussie in Indore opener

Smith and Maxwell will be trading cricketing blows against one another as Rising Pune Supergiant takes on King’s XI Punjab at the Holkar stadium on Saturday. Supergiant is riding high after Thursday’s victory over Mumbai Indians.

Rising Pune Supergiant will depend heavily on its skipper Steven Smith.   -  Vivek Bendre

It was in Ranchi earlier this season that Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell were involved in a critical partnership on day one of the third Test against India.

Inspired by the mercurial Smith, Maxwell notched up a path-breaking first Test hundred. He leapt in joy and embraced Smith after reaching the three-figure mark. They were comrades-in-arms.

That seems a long time ago. Now, the teams are different, the format has changed and the two Aussies find themselves heading rival IPL franchises.

Starwars: Maxwell v Tahir

Smith and Maxwell will be trading cricketing blows against one another as Rising Pune Supergiant takes on King’s XI Punjab at the Holkar stadium on Saturday.

Supergiant is riding high after Thursday’s victory over Mumbai Indians.

A seemingly tough chase of 185 was expertly managed by Smith and his 54-ball unbeaten 84. In many senses, Saturday’s game here will be a duel between Smith and the explosive Maxwell.

The intrepid Maxwell has this precious ability to manipulate field positions in this format, can essay different shots to the same ball.

Mentoring the side is Virender Sehwag who blew away several attacks during his time. Maxwell has enormous respect for the man. “He always backed my brand of cricket. It was a big moment for me when I played alongside Sehwag for Delhi Daredevils,” the King’s XI captain said.

Smith could reach out to leg-spinner Imran Tahir to take out Maxwell. Tahir excels in this format with his variety and control. King’s XI also has the destructive David ‘Killer’ Miller in its line-up. The belligerent southpaw can take the match quickly from the opposition.

This game is not short on marquee names. Supergiant’s Rs.14.5 crore pace-bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes will be seeking to prove he’s worth all that money. Then there is Ajinkya Rahane, the delicate but decisive stroke-maker at the top of the order.

The game will also feature the iconic wicket-keeper batsman M.S. Dhoni, yet another match-winner for Supergiant, against his worthy successor in the Indian Test team, Wriddhiman Saha. The Supergaint has drafted in Tamil Nadu youngster Washington Sundar in place of Ravichandran Ashwin.

Young, nippy left-arm seamer T. Natarajan, whose rags to riches story was heart-warming, could feature for King’s XI.

Match starts at 4 p.m.