Maxwell will replace M Vijay, who had been installed as the Punjab skipper midway through IPL 2016, taking over from David Miller. The team did show some signs of a turnaround under Vijay, having begun the season with five losses in six matches under Miller, but eventually finished on the bottom of the table for the second season in a row.
Maxwell was bought for Rs 6 crore in the 2014 auctions, and enjoyed his best IPL season that year, being awarded the Man of the Tournament with Punjab reaching the final for the first time, where they lost narrowly to Kolkata Knight Riders. The last two years, however, have been underwhelming for Maxwell, and he has also been benched by the franchise after a string of poor scores. He played only 11 matches each in 2015 and 2016, scoring 145 runs and 179 runs in the two years – far below the 552 he racked up in 2014.
This will be the first time Maxwell will captain a major team. He has been chosen to lead ahead of Eoin Morgan, England’s regular white-ball captain, Darren Sammy, who led West Indies to two World T20 titles, and Vijay, whose leadership brought some lift in the team’s performances in the second half of IPL 2016. Both Morgan and Sammy were bought by Punjab in the 2017 auctions.
Maxwell will be the ninth captain Punjab have had, the most for any franchise along with Delhi Daredevils.
Vijay’s captaincy record reads three wins and five losses from eight games, though several losses were very close affairs. They lost by seven runs against Kolkata Knight Riders, by one run against Royal Challengers Bangalore in a match that included a ‘wide’ call gone wrong against Punjab, and lost to Rising Pune Supergiants in a battle for the wooden spoon when MS Dhoni hit Axar Patel for 23 runs in the last over, including two sixes off the last two balls with 12 required to win.
There have been several changes in the set-up of the franchise since, with Sanjay Bangar quitting as head coach and the management installing Virender Sehwag in an expanded role from being team mentor to being head of cricket operations and strategy. While R Sridhar remains the fielding coach, J Arunkumar and Mithun Manhas have come on board as the batting and assistant coach respectively.
Maxwell is currently in India as part of the Australian Test side. He could be in line to earn a recall to the playing XI for the third Test in Ranchi with the series tied at 1-1, with Mitchell Marsh having flown home injured.
Thakur traded, Guptill injured
Shardul Thakur, the Mumbai pacer, has been traded to Rising Pune Supergiants. That will reduce Punjab’s squad strength to 26, while increasing Pune’s to the maximum limit of 27. Thakur was bought for Rs 20 lakh in the 2014 auction.
In an unrelated development, Martin Guptill is set to miss the start of IPL 2017. (LINK) Guptill, who was bought at his base price of Rs 50 lakh in the 2017 auction, will undergo a six week-long strength and conditioning rehabilitation programme, having suffered hamstring strains to both legs during the 2016-17 summer and complained of soreness following his side’s One-Day International series against South Africa last week. However, he will be travelling to India, but will be monitored by Tommy Simsek, the New Zealand physiotherapist, who will accompany him to ensure he is fully fit for the Champions Trophy in July.
Source: Wisden India