Glenn Maxwell celebrated his elevation in Australia’s reshuffled batting order by producing another batting masterclass that led his team to a 34-run win over West Indies and an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match Dettol T20I Series.
With a host of star players absent at the end of a hectic home summer, Maxwell grabbed his chance batting at four to blast a record-equalling fifth T20I century that carried Australia to their highest 20-over men’s total on home soil.
It also represented a marked change of fortune for Maxwell whose previous visit to Adelaide, for a golf event on the final day of the first Test between Australia and West Indies at Adelaide Oval, saw him admitted to hospital after collapsing at a licensed venue.
The huge total meant West Indies needed their biggest-ever T20 score batting second, but not even the renowned finishing skills of Andre Russell (37 off 16) and captain Rovman Powell (63 off 36) could get them home after they slumped to 5-63 in the seventh over.
The game might have ended earlier in the penultimate over when Alzarri Joseph was run out by Spencer Johnson at the bowler’s end, but despite the conclusive video evidence umpire Gerard Abood ruled in the batter’s favour claiming the Australia fielders failed to appeal.
Maxwell’s knock, which came just months after single-handedly carrying Australia to victory over Afghanistan at the ICC ODI World Cup where he scored an unbeaten double century, also highlighted the batting riches his team takes into the upcoming T20 World Cup later this year.
Maxwell was only batting at number four today because likely T20 World Cup starters Travis Head and Steve Smith have been rested from this series, with the right-hander to potentially bat at six or seven in a full-strength Australia XI.
His unbeaten 120 from just 55 balls faced saw him equal Indian Rohit Sharma’s benchmark if five hundreds in T20 Internationals and was the Australian’s second-highest individual tally in the shortest format behind his 145 not out (off 65 balls) against Sri Lanka at Pallekele in 2016.
To underscore Maxwell’s value as Australia look to complete an unprecedented treble by simultaneously the World Test Championship crown and ODI World Cup title they secured with the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA later this year, the next-most T20I hundreds for Australia is Aaron Finch’s two.
His virtuoso performance propelled Australia to their third-highest T20 score, with tonight’s 4-241 eclipsed only by the 6-248 they posted against England at Southampton in 2013 and the 5-245 they piled on against New Zealand at Auckland’s Eden Park six years ago.
That daunting tally meant West Indies had to find the highest successful T20 chase seen in Australia, and they were always up against it after explosive opener Brandon King holed out with the innings not two overs old.
And after Nicholas Pooran departed for 18 – courtesy of three towering sixes – in local hero Johnson’s opening over and Marcus Stoinis put paid to other West Indies batting hopes Shai Hope (0) and Johnson Charles (24 off 11), the game was effectively done at 4-62 in the sixth.
Maxwell coincidentally went to the middle in the sixth over of Australia’s innings, and soon faced a rescue mission after skipper Mitchell Marsh (29 off 12) and opener David Warner (22 off 19) perished in consecutive overs to leave the home team 3-64 in the seventh.
Aware of Australia’s elongated tail that began with spinner Adam Zampa at number eight, Maxwell took the responsibility for righting the ship and did so through some typically audacious strokeplay.
The 35-year-old should have been run out on 10, when he charged off for an attempted leg bye off Romario Shepherd and had abandoned all hope of regaining his ground as keeper Pooran’s throw from his gloved right hand flew well wide of the stumps.
When Maxwell celebrated the reprieve by flat-batting Shepherd’s next ball for six over extra cover it became immediately apparent how costly that missed opportunity might prove.
By the innings mid-point, Maxwell and Stoinis had steadied the early wobble and taken the total to 3-99, at which point the former decided it was time to cut loose.
When skipper Powell took the ball for the first time to bowl the innings’ 11th over, Maxwell greeted him with three successive boundaries – a reverse sweep to deep backward point, a flick behind square leg from outside off stump, and a deft glide through the off side.
The right-hander reached 50 from 25 balls faced, then unfurled perhaps the most impressive strike of his 71-minute stay when he aimed a reverse sweep at left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein that flew deep into the crowd beyond cover (or mid-wicket, as it became).
By the time Stoinis departed for 16 (off 15) in the 14th over, after a partnership of 82 from just seven overs with his former Victoria teammate, Australia were 4-146 and eyeing their previous highest T20 total in Australia which also came at Adelaide (2-233 against Sri Lanka in 2019).
With Tim David (31no off 14) in similarly brutal form at the other end, Maxwell powered his way into the record books with a savage onslaught that brought his team 58 runs from the final three overs.
The West Indies cause wasn’t helped by some lacklustre fielding and poorly executed bowling that included seven wides in their 20 overs, but it’s doubtful any team could have quelled Maxwell who was hellbent on making the most of such sublime batting conditions.
“When it’s not doing too much, you think in your brain that you’ve actually got to make the most of this opportunity,” Maxwell said when interviewed on Fox Cricket during the change of innings.
‘You actually don’t get too many like it in T20, when you’ve got a couple of short, square boundaries and the wicket’s really nice and true.
“And you’ve given yourself a good platform, so I was just trying to stick out there for as long as I could.
“I’ve always relied on my hand speed to get me out of trouble if my footwork is a little bit slow.
“So I was just trying to give myself the best chance to guide into a gap, or get over the in-field and it really seemed to work for me today.”
Maxwell’s second T20I century in Australia – after the 103no (from 58 balls) against England at Blundstone Arena in 2018 – arrived from the 50th delivery he faced when he slapped the exasperated Shepherd (1-48 from four overs) to the mid-off rope.
He then blazed 19 from the final five deliveries he faced as he and David piled on an undefeated 95 from 38 balls to close out an imposing batting display.
Johnson ensured the Adelaide crowd of 19,891 enjoyed the game’s second half as much as they had the first by striking in his opening over, then having a tough catch missed by keeper Matthew Wade next ball and accounting for Sherfane Rutherford in his second over for a memorable first international appearance on Australia soil.
The win means Australia will add the three-game Dettol T20 Series to the ODI trophy they lifted with a clean sweep over the West Indies last week, with the final T20 game to be played at Perth Stadium on Tuesday.
Australia then complete their international preparations ahead of this year’s T20 World Cup with a three-match campaign against the Black Caps in New Zealand starting on February 21. (Cricket Australia)