Glenn Maxwell and Australia are targeting a 5-0 sweep of Pakistan to finish their dual tour of India and the UAE, which has delivered the tourists as a group and Maxwell himself an enormous amount of growth.
Clearly benefiting from added responsibility as an advisor to the captain Aaron Finch, Maxwell has played a pair of his finest limited-overs innings since the 2015 World Cup to help the Australians seal the Pakistan series and get within one game of 5-0. His role in the team, a subject of considerable debate this summer, appears to have crystallised as a middle-order specialist with the occasional promotion, and peaked with an innings of 98 on Friday night that ensured the team had just enough runs to squeak past Pakistan.
"It's very exciting for us, and that's all the motivation you need, to have a clean sweep in a foreign country after we haven't had a lot of success over the last 12 months," Maxwell said. "It'd be great for this group to win 5-0, I feel like we've played some extremely good cricket over here, we've adapted brilliantly to different conditions and everyone's chipped in at different times as well. It's been a really good team effort the whole time. One more big effort for us over here, then blokes can take their holidays."
Much was made of the fact that Maxwell gave up the chance to score a century by chasing a dicey second run in the final over of the innings, leading to his dismissal for 98, but he had no qualms about giving up a personal milestone for the team. "It would have been nice to get a hundred but I was really happy with the way I played today," Maxwell said.
"To put that partnership on with [Alex] Carey, to get us to a total we thought we could defend - I was really proud of the way I went about it. The hundred doesn't really matter too much to me. I'm not going to look back on my career when I'm done and think about all the hundreds I've missed. I'm going to think about the wins we had."
Finding a way to better contribute to wins has been a theme of Maxwell's recent months in the team, as he, Finch and coach Justin Langer have worked towards the current formula. Maxwell was happy to admit he had made plenty of errors along the way, but showed in a vital stand with the wicketkeeper Carey that there is growing maturity to his expansive game.
"The last two games I've come in a bit earlier when we've lost a few wickets back to back and there's been a little bit of pressure on when I've gone out. It's actually been nice to get through that, be able to get myself into my innings and not just go out and play a cameo knock in the last 10 overs.
"I was able to get myself in and really assess the conditions. That's playing to the conditions and playing how you should as a middle-order batter and those sorts of opportunities come up when conditions are tough and the top order's found it difficult. That's why they get out and that's why you go in at those times. For me it's about getting through those tough times and giving myself that chance to go at the back end.
"I've made a lot of mistakes as a middle-order batter and not quite made it to the time where I can go. It was nice to be there for the back end and delay the bigger hitting until a little bit later when we felt like we could comfortably get to a total we could defend."
More broadly, the team found a way to outlast Pakistan despite the chasers getting themselves in a position where, needing 49 from seven overs with seven wickets in hand, they really should have won. "It's one of those games where because we've got a bit of winning momentum behind, you find a way to win these. If you look back six to seven months ago, probably even less, we were probably on the other side of it," Maxwell said.
"We were finding ways to lose when we were in winning positions [a few months ago]. It's a funny thing winning momentum. When you're winning games, you just find a way to win. That's the great thing about this group at the moment. We're finding ways to win in different conditions, different ways.
"With that ball getting really wet it was hard for us to control that partnership through the middle and they were batting really well, the wicket was skidding on nicely and we just had to hang in there for a little bit longer. That's where I'm really proud of this group, we just hung in there and kept the run rate at bay."