The much-awaited Indian Premier League 2020 (IPL 2020) season is all set to kick-off in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on September 19. After months of delay due to the coronavirus-induced global pandemic, the IPL 2020 officials and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recently came up with a launch date and a venue for the high-profile tournament. However, the upcoming IPL 2020 season is not the first time an IPL event is being played in the Middle East. Previously, the UAE hosted the first 20 matches of the IPL in 2014, where each of the eight participating teams played five matches each in the desert country.
Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell made his Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) debut in IPL 2014. The explosive middle-order batsman launched his own ‘Desert Storm’ in the country and won three back-to-back ‘Player of the Match’ awards in doing so. He started his IPL 2014 campaign with a 43-ball 95 that enabled KXIP to overhaul MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings’ (CSK) massive 205-4. The right-handed batsman followed it up with scores of 89 and 95 against Rajasthan Royals and SunRisers Hyderabad at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
After the UAE leg of the season, Glenn Maxwell had aggregated 300 runs at an average of 60. By striking at 201.3 runs per 100 balls, he even bettered the likes of MS Dhoni (152.54) and AB de Villiers (96.02). At the time, Glenn Maxwell emerged as the leading run-scorer, held the highest strike-rate and fittingly wore the ‘Orange Cap’. However, the coveted title was snatched away from him by Kolkata Knight Riders’ Robin Uthappa when the remainder of the season later shifted to India.
While Glenn Maxwell was released by the KXIP franchise after the 2017 season, the burly Victorian re-joined the ‘Lion’s Den’ during the IPL 2020 auction. He is expected to join the KXIP camp sometime between the end of August or the beginning of September for training sessions. By playing alongside his fellow KXIP T20 heavyweights like Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Mohammad Shami, Maxwell will be hoping to replicate his 2014 success for the franchise in the upcoming season as well.
Former Indian captain MS Dhoni has been on a sabbatical break from international cricket since July 2019. He was expected to return to competitive cricket as CSK captain in March but the pandemic extended his break from the game. MS Dhoni’s return on the field remains one of the most talked-about prospects for CSK fans and for the IPL 2020 season.