Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2014, Abu Dhabi April 18, 2014

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone else

Glenn Maxwell shaped to sweep but held his stroke and let the ball go past him instead, turning his back to it in exaggerated manner. It was the third time in two overs that R Ashwin had bowled a wide down the leg side to Maxwell, and each time it had seemed as though the batsman had provoked him into bowling that line.

Other batsmen try and upset a bowler's rhythm by moving conspicuously around the crease; Maxwell had done this with little feints of his hip and shoulder, like a winger toying with a fullback, suggesting he might play a certain stroke without really committing to it.

Ashwin had taken two wickets already. His side was defending a total of 205. But Maxwell had reverse-swept him twice already with clinical placement, and that had clearly rattled him.

"Why are you scared, Ashwin?" yelled a voice from the grass banks. "He's not Afridi!"

The heckler was right. Maxwell isn't really Afridi, even if his strike rate and his ability to clear the ropes puts him in that category of batsman. But he had brought back a vague memory of an entirely different Pakistan batsman in the brief time he had spent at the crease till that point. He had made you think of Javed Miandad.

There's no comparing their careers, of course, or their batting styles, but a common thread runs through their wholly different personalities at the crease. Miandad was cocky in a chatty sort of way; Maxwell seems to project a sort of icy disdain. Both approaches, though, are directed towards the same end, that of getting under the bowlers' skins.

This aspect of Maxwell's game surely played some role in two of his most notable international innings so far. Last year, in Bangalore, he had walked in at 74 for 4, with Australia going at under four-and-a-half runs an over while chasing 384 in the deciding match of the ODI series against India. Maxwell, impervious to the prevailing circumstances, came in and smashed 60 off 22 balls.

During the World T20 last month, Australia lost two wickets in their first over against Pakistan while chasing 192. Maxwell walked in and tonked 74 off 33 balls. In the time he was at the crease, Aaron Finch scored a wholly prosaic 37 off 32 at the other end. Finch carried on to make 65, but none of the other Australians got into double figures as Pakistan wrapped up a 16-run win.

Maxwell, that day, seemed to bat in a bubble that excluded everyone else, including his partner at the other end. It didn't even have room for the match situation. The bubble broke when he was dismissed, and normal service resumed.

Friday was similar. Punjab were chasing 206, and were 31 for 1 when Maxwell walked in. He saw two more wickets fall before David Miller joined him, at 52 for 3. Maxwell's response to all of this wasn't so much "no problem, I'll handle it" as "I don't really care".

You have to be extremely talented to play that way, of course, and there were a couple of occasions when he caressed the ball through the off side with so much grace that you had to rub your eyes and wonder what was going on. There was a bit of Ricky Ponting in the dip of his head at the highest point of Maxwell's backlift, and in the smooth downswing of his bat. Yes, him too.

In the end, Maxwell's 43-ball 95, which set Punjab up to win with a level of comfort that didn't seem possible when he had begun his innings, left you pondering a parallel universe. Here was a man who batted like a weird mix of Miandad and Ponting who, in between the flowing drives, the clever laps and reverse-sweeps, slogged rather crudely at a number of deliveries, timing some, missing some, never seeming to care either way. It made you wonder what sort of a batsman he would be if Twenty20 didn't exist.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Dark on April 22, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    Good slogging supported with poor bowling and poor fielding.

  • Aditya on April 19, 2014, 19:27 GMT

    every ball he faces, he brings a sense of anticipation not just to the spectators but also to the bowler. you cannot dare to take your eye of the match when he bats.

  • ESPN on April 19, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    What ai innings.? Thoroughly enjoyed the game . Maxwell is worth a million .can some one tell me how many times 200 has been chased in t 20 game.

  • Cricket on April 19, 2014, 9:02 GMT

    Maxwell has the potential to be a really great player. He needs to check his shots though. He often gets too creative too fast which spells his downfall. Admittedly, he needed to take risks yesterday, but he does need to find a slower gear to excel in other formats. As for his future with KXIP, he cannot be expected to pull off such knocks every time. He will fail, but his value as a utility player is immense. He can bat anywhere in the top 7 and can be brought to up the anti whenever needed. He is the type of player who can accelerate from ball 1 whereas someone like Miller (good as he is) needs some time to set himself in. They both should make a good combination though. This is why I feel that Maxwell's role should not be defined. While he is an ideal No. 3, he should be moved around the order, should the need arise. He really adds the X-factor and utilizing him well could put KXIP in the play offs.

  • Steve on April 19, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    As an Englishman, I just wish our Jos Buttler had an ego equal to GM. Awesome innings, great thinking and some great timing of classical strikes to go with the cheeky innovation. Loved his chess game with an otherwise dominant Ashwin, especially his obvious joy at outfoxing him. I actually believe Aussies will be a force in world 50 over cup, with their selection of mercurial batting talent, pace bowling and presumably Clarke to provide some stability. Saved the enjoyment of this match for me, in fact. Was getting bored of watching bowlers powerless on such a plum batting track, but GM cheered me up with his invention and attitude. As for not caring about the match situation, exactly the right mentality chasing 200. Have fun! Young English batting protégés, please watch and learn, especially the 'bubble' mentality, and his enjoyment of the game.

  • Android on April 19, 2014, 8:17 GMT

    Maxwell ur the new Afridi for aussies !

  • Senthil on April 19, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    Super player, and of course he would take marginally lesser risks if the asking rate isn't hovering between 10 and 12. That's why he gave those chances, which CSK didn't take. Or else, Iceman would have simply trotted along beautifully.

  • Lou on April 19, 2014, 6:59 GMT

    Iron clad ego is a great quality in a sportsman as they won't be fazed by difficult match situations. Maxwell has always looked like that, I think Warner has a touch of the same, but he's quite on that bubble level.

  • Dummy4 on April 19, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Maxwell is going to be huge in all 3 formats, I think. His next coming in test cricket could have a big impact and I'd be inclined to get him in at no.6 for the test series against Pakistan in October. He clearly doesn't lack for talent and his results are consistently improving, it's a good mix.

  • Chanderbir on April 19, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    Maxwell, the way he played yesterday was not just bashing of the ball.. He was playing unorthodox strokes all over the ground.. It was clear that he didn't attempt too many sixes.. n man, his drives were awesome.. Class act..

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