Star Wars: Maxwell v Tahir

Steve Smith might save his numero uno bowler Imran Tahir to get rid of Kings XI Punjab skipper Glenn Maxwell, who, if he gets going, can win the match on his own.

It’s baffling no team wanted Imran Tahir at this year’s IPL auction. He tops both the ODI and T20I rankings. He’s picked nearly 50 T20 wickets since 2016, giving away less than eight runs per over. After filling in for Mitchell Marsh in the Rising Pune Supergiant squad just ahead of the tournament, Tahir chipped away at Mumbai Indians’s line-up on Thursday’s game. He removed Mumbai’s top-three before the eighth over of the game and finished with 3-24.

His skipper Steve Smith, after Thursday’s game, said “[I] probably called him on a little bit earlier than I would have liked to.”

Today, he might save Tahir for Glenn Maxwell. A few weeks ago, the latter toiled in Ranchi for a maiden Test hundred. It was an un-Maxwell innings though. Of the 185 balls he faced in the innings, there were only a handful of occasions where he played what many call “unorthodox shots”, which are his bread and butter. Playing that innings he must have felt like a man who has conquered all desires. But there, the situation demanded that he did.

But at Indore, he can be manic again. The scoops and sweeps can be played with reckless abandon. And when they come off, the teams don’t stand a chance. Ask the Sri Lankans. He buried them in Pallekele last September with an unbeaten 65-ball 145 in a T20I. He might fight to fit in in Tests but he belongs to the T20 aristocracy.

From what transpired from RPS’s first match, Tahir seems the best bet to stop Maxwell. Or, Maxwell, as he has many times, will bewilderingly self-destruct.