Maxwell produces more IPL magic in the final ball thriller

Glenn Maxwell continued his sorcery in Friday’s final IPL group matches and looted his sixth IPL fifty of the year as he combined with Royal Challenger’s Bangalore teammate Srikar Bharat for a match-winning partnership in a remarkable final ball, seven wicket wins over Delhi Capitals in Dubai.

The duo produced a 111-run stand where Bharat cleared the ropes on the final ball of the match to seal the victory and book a spot in the ‘Eliminator’ playoff match against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Monday.

Ricky Ponting’s Capitals side had gotten off to a blistering start on the final night of the regular season as openers Prithvi Shaw (48) and Shikhar Dhawan (43) ran to 0-88 after 10 overs before Hashal Patel (1-34 from 4 ) made the breakthrough.

Indian sailor Mohammed Siraj was selected by the bowlers for RCB with 2-25 from his four overs, as the Delhi line-up – once again without Steve Smith in the side – went up to 5-164 at the end of their 20 overs.

Bangalore started a shaky start to the race chase with Anrich Nortje rejecting Devdutt Padikkal and skipper Virat Kohli to make the score read 2-6 as AB de Villiers took his way to the fold.

The South African produced a run-a-ball 26 before Axar Patel made the central breakthrough.

The dismissal brought in-form Maxwell to the boom with Bharat still needing 110 runs from 63 deliveries.

Maxwell rode a bit of luck on his way to 45 out of 30 balls before hitting in the final over – bowled by Avesh Khan – with RCB needing 15 runs to win.

The Australian broke his eighth limit for the night and then spent his fourth half century in the last five matches before Bharat took over the strike.

Khan needed six from the last ball, and Khan bowled a wide pass down the side of the leg, which Bharat lifted back over the head of fast bowlers to equal six, much to the delight of his captain Virat Kohli.

“Incredible,” Kohli said. “It was a game where we had nothing to lose but still losing early wickets and doing well against a team at the top of the table is good. We have beaten them twice this season.”

Maxwell’s knock-off, 33 balls, saw him take his count for the season to 498 runs, making him the fifth top scorer in the league in this year’s edition. Only KL Rahul with 30 sixes smashed more than the Victorians’ 21.

Meanwhile, the defending champions of the Mumbai Indians have not managed to reach the playoffs as they were run out at driving speed – but they did not go down without a fight in Abu Dhabi.

Mumbai, winners of the last two years, had realistically had no chance of getting into the last four, but they were producing some fireworks when they hammered Sunriser’s Hyderabad by 42 runs.

In need of a miraculous victory with more than 170 races to oust the Kolkata Knight Riders from the top four in the standings, Mumbai rode on Ishan Kishan’s remarkable fastest half century of the season to make a brave attempt with their 9-235 total.

Kishan raised his fifty from just 16 balls and scored 84 out of 32 balls with 11 fours and four sixes before being caught behind in the 10th inning.

Then Mumbai kept accelerating through Suryakumar Yadav’s blistering 82 off 40 balls to put a big total in hopes that their bowlers could then single out the Sunrisers.

But Hyderabad, late in the standings with just three wins in 14 group matches, could not commit and actually looked threatening in the race chase – in just a short time – before being limited to 8-193.

The result ensured that Mumbai and Kolkata both finished with seven wins, but the Knight Riders threw the five-time champions out on net running speed.

Kolkata then take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in an eliminator on Monday in Sharjah, with only the winner advancing.

Before then, the Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings meet at the table on Sunday in Dubai in the first qualifier, where the winners go straight to the final and the losers face the winners in Kolkata and Bangalore.

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