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Cricket news - 'Matured' Maxwell walks the talk
There's something invariably magnetic about Glenn Maxwell. His batting may seem bullish and unpredictable, but there's no escaping that, when in flow, he can be force as destructive as any. Batting apart, he's a live wire on the field, and a useful bowler too. Heck, he even has the media up in splits during the majority of his press conferences. Yet, there's often surrounding exasperation with Maxwell. For all the talent he's deemed to posses, he averages 26 in Tests and 32 in ODIs.
It's what makes him the player he is. And when he is the player he is, Australia suddenly look a team that can conquer everything. With him in flow, they arrived in India and won themselves their first ever T20I series against India in India. And Maxwell bagged himself his third T20I century.
Maxwell marries unorthodoxy with some superb execution. It makes him amongst the most difficult batsmen to bowl to. He was out trying to hit a wide leg-spinner in Vizag, yet he hit those same deliveries to and above the fences with ease in Bengaluru. Lower full tosses were lofted stylishly straight down the ground, while those higher were clubbed with equal ease. Even when things don't quite go his way, like when the spinners tied him down at the start of the second half of the innings, Maxwell brought out the sweep and the switch hit to get his team back into the game.
The Indians threw everything they had at him, but Maxwell had answers to everything. Even when he was up against India's best death bowler Jasprit Burmrah, the Australian showcased great game awareness. He said he knew he had to take Bumrah on in the 17th over, when 44 were needed off the last four overs, and helped himself to two boundaries. Off Bumrah's next he was content not taking any risks and closing out the game against Siddharth Kaul.
"I think we needed 43 or 44 off the last overs and (Bumrah) came back on. I suppose it was a key over. If that only went for four or five, suddenly you need 13 an over. And it only takes six good yorkers from him to push that up to 18-19," Maxwell said.
He also mentioned that he had changed his approach after seeing Bumrah get the better of him, especially in the IPL.
"I've sort of changed my approach to him a little bit. Been able to wait for a ball that's slightly off and capitalise on that. I was able to get him for two boundaries in that over, and keep the run rate in check. I was able to target Siddarth next over and then we only needed 14 off 12 balls, which sort of made the 19th over - as long as we didn't lose any wickets - pretty comfortable."
It's the kind of application that makes him the best finisher. As much as it was about soaking in the pressure and knowing when to hit the accelerator, it was also about knowing which bowler to take on when. Maxwell was waiting for Kaul's knuckle balls in the 18th over. He missed the first one - a slower bouncer that struck his arm - but caught hold of the next and sent it flying over the bowler's head. Then when the high full toss presented itself to him later in the over, the right-hander added the other six and effectively ended the game.
Three singles in the next over off Bumrah did little to damage Australia's chances, and fittingly finished the game off with a six and a four. Game Australia. Series Australia. Momentum Australia.
At the end of the last game, Maxwell had said that he wanted to convert his fifties into bigger, more meaningful contributions for the team. On Wednesday, he showed that he meant it. In Vizag, Maxwell had gone after Chahal when the game seemed to be in the bag for his side and threw away the advantage. They did sneak through in the end, but Maxwell's rush of blood in that moment almost cost them the game.
It was just as one commentator had pointed out earlier. The Maxwell we expect is the one who makes everyone sit up and take notice with his brilliant strokeplay, but just when you expected him to go big, he'd fail and bring his team down with him, the commentator had said.
In Bengaluru, there was a more mature Maxwell on display. He recognised the need for him to stay till the end when D'Arcy Short was dismissed in the 12th over. He allowed himself and his partner more time, giving India the opportunity to pull things back with a couple of tight overs. Maxwell, however, had things worked out in his mind. He said he was okay if Australia get into the final eight overs needing a hundred to win, but seeing as they had exceeded his expectations, he was happy to dial the intensity down a bit. He and Handscomb combined for 16 runs off as many deliveries from Chahal and Krunal before the Aussie decided he'd had enough. After that there was no stopping him.
Australia will hope this is only the beginning.
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