In the lead-up to Australia's must-win match against West Indies, acting coach Justin Langer spoke of how important Glenn Maxwell's experience and finishing ability could become at the business end of the tri-series. As if on cue, Maxwell produced a jaw-dropping 46 not out from 26 balls to deliver Australia into the tri-series final and left his batting partner Mitchell Marsh lost for words at the other end.
Australia needed 62 off 50 balls with six wickets in hand when Maxwell walked to the crease, a man who had failed to reach double figures in any of his past five ODI innings and had been dropped earlier in the series. But Maxwell found his x-factor and got Australia home with eight balls to spare, along the way reverse-sweeping Sunil Narine for six.
"I said give yourself a few balls mate and then go for it," Marsh said. "I was literally speechless at the other end watching an innings like that. Maxi has had a lot of doubt and hasn't been in the greatest of form but an innings like that tonight shows why he's one of the first picked in this side, because he's so dangerous and can win us games like that in a few overs. Really rapt for him.
"He actually told me we'll just take them for ones. Next thing he's playing a reverse-sweep for six. I absolutely loved it. Maxi is a free spirit, you've just got to let him go and do what he does. When it comes off like that it's unbelievable to watch."
Maxwell and Marsh steered Australia to victory with their 62-run partnership, which followed on from a 122-run stand between Marsh and captain Steven Smith. Marsh's innings of 79 not out from 85 deliveries was critical given that he had come to the crease at 99 for 3 chasing 283, and like Maxwell he had struggled for batting form in the series, having not reached 20 in any of his previous for innings.
"It's right up there, I think any time you can bat through an innings and be not out in a win in a crucial chase like that, it's very satisfying," Marsh said of his own innings. "I've put in a lot of work. I haven't had much of an opportunity - well, I have, but I haven't taken them in this series. So it was really nice to step up and get us over the line."
Australia's place in Sunday's tri-series final in Barbados is now secure, and they will take on the winner of Friday's clash between West Indies and South Africa.