Australia v Pakistan, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur

Maxwell finds his feet under pressure

Glenn Maxwell came in with Australia two down in the first over, but he didn't let that bog him down, choosing instead to take advantage of the field restrictions to launch a methodical counterattack

Mohammad Isam in Mirpur

March 24, 2014

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Glenn Maxwell smacks a shot through the leg side, Australia v Pakistan, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur, March 23, 2014
Glenn Maxwell scored 53 of his 74 runs through the leg side, including all of his seven sixes © Getty Images
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Glenn Maxwell's hurricane 74 against Pakistan ultimately amounted to nothing, from a result point of view, but Australia will be delighted with the knowledge that one of their biggest hitters can connect under the highest pressure.

From 8 for 2 in the first over and with Aaron Finch struggling to get going, Maxwell aimed at the best within Pakistan's bowling attack. He regularly connected with the slog sweep every time a bowler strayed or even hinted at straying.

It would have been understandable had he not taken complete advantage of the poor deliveries at that stage, since Australia needed to rebuild, but Maxwell rushed them past that stage quickly with what amounted to methodical hitting. His power helped, ensuring even slower deliveries cleared the rope comfortably. His feet were moving well, and at times he splayed them to make room on both sides of the wicket.

Maxwell peppered the on-side field, taking 53 of his 74 runs from the region, hammering all seven of his sixes in the arc between backward square-leg and long-on. He was only stopped by genuinely good deliveries, such as a doosra that he missed from Saeed Ajmal in the tenth over.

He attacked Ajmal quite a lot too, taking 12 off five deliveries, but was keener still when Bilawal Bhatti bowled his first over, taking 20 out of the 30 runs that came from it. His early attack on Mohammad Hafeez also signaled what Australia's attitude would be towards spin, but the other batsmen didn't taste the success Maxwell had.

This was Maxwell's most significant effort in an Australian jersey, having entered the team two years ago with a growing reputation as a T20 player. Captain George Bailey praised Maxwell's response to the situation.

"It was outstanding," Bailey said. "That's exactly why he's batting in that position [No. 4] for us. We know he's got that shot-making power. I thought it was a mature innings too; he picked gaps at times as well. He went up and down in momentum as was required."

According to Maxwell, batting in the Powerplay overs made it slightly less challenging for him. He had raced to 31 off 13 balls with two sixes and four fours during this period, taking his side's score past 50 in the process. He also enjoyed the extra responsibility of batting up the order in a crucial moment.

"I think it does help when you are out there in the first over and there's still only two men outside the circle," Maxwell said. "It's a lot easier to score. The wicket was skidding a little bit at the time I went out there and by the end, it was actually starting to turn a bit.

"It was nice to watch the wicket reversal, it made it easy for me because I had been out there for a while. For the guys that came in, it was probably a little bit more difficult because the ball was starting to spin a little bit more and play a few more tricks."

Maxwell also believed his prior experience while playing against Pakistan helped him, as did having Finch in the middle.

"My first series against Pakistan, that probably helped tonight, knowing that I can face their spinners and I was confident I could score against them," he said. "Having Finchy at the other end was quite calming as well, someone who I live with and I spend a lot of time with. So it was very calming having him at the other end."

It was Maxwell all the way for Australia, and when the batting collapsed after his dismissal, there was confirmation that not many of his teammates were having a great day. Whether it was just a case of waking up on the right side of the bed or of flicking a switch within, the Australian team ought to look to Maxwell and turn it on under pressure.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by imtiazjaleel on (March 25, 2014, 9:43 GMT)

The wicket of Brad Hodge was the turning point in the match. I think he could have easily won the match for Australia, which he has done for RR and Aus before so many times in exactly the same situations.

Posted by Desihungama on (March 24, 2014, 20:30 GMT)

Well it was sheer thrill to watch Maxwell. I am sure many Pakistani Fans specially the players will have nightmares for days to come. I know I will. Pure and Raw hitting that was.

Posted by mzm149 on (March 24, 2014, 20:14 GMT)

The pitch changed its behavior as mentioned by Maxwell. Initially the ball was skidding and then taking turn. That helped Pakistani bowlers. Otherwise I was thinking how could Finch, who had been there right from the start and was scoring well, not time the ball properly by the end of his innings. That

All praise to Maxwell for his outstanding innings.

Posted by rise_of_the_ashes on (March 24, 2014, 13:15 GMT)

Ajmal went for 25 runs in first 2 overs but he came back well and give away only 10-11 runs in last two overs in death bowling, which is incredible and mostly importantly wicket of finch and win for PAK. This shown who is "BIG ONE"....

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (March 24, 2014, 12:48 GMT)

He handled Ajmal with ease, smashed him to smithereens.

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