Maxwell 2.0: aggressive yet responsible

IN PUNISHING MOOD Australia's Glenn Maxwell put on show a brilliant power-hitting to guide Australia to T20 series win over India. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

“It’s (India) a tough place to come. The crowd shouts Kohli and Dhoni non-stop, even when they are not batting, so it’s a difficult place,” said Glenn Maxwell of the imposing support India receive at home.

But in the second and final T20I on Wednesday night, the swashbuckling batsman from Australia commanded respect from the vociferous Chinnaswamy crowd with an innings that was as brutal as it was impressive.

Maxwell, en route to his 55-ball 113, wasn’t just helping Australia seal a rare series victory over India. The 30-year-old had his own battles to fight. In the past one year, Maxwell, once a certainty, has been on a quest to prove his worth in the national set-up. After being snubbed from the Test squad two years ago, Maxwell faced the ODI axe for the England series in January last year.

He returned to international fold for the limited overs series against New Zealand earlier this year. After the comeback, Maxwell has had to bat as low as No. 7 in the one-day internationals.

Maxwell uses his brute power and unusual array of shots to score quickly. But over the last couple of years, his obsession with the unorthodox shot making has proved costly, drawing criticism from team-mates. “It would be better if he focuses more on the basics and train better,” an upset Steve Smith had said last year.   

The India series, at least so far, has produced a different Maxwell. Following a responsible half-century in the first T20I, save for the shot that caused his dismissal, the striking aspect of Maxwell’s ton here was his control over shot selection. Apart from one reverse-swept six off Yuzvendra Chahal, the right-hander dominated India with clean hitting.  

“D’Arcy Short got out at a time where our innings could have crumbled. It was on me to take the team through. I looked for partnerships and I am glad I was able to keep the scoreboard ticking. Also, I don’t think I took too many ridiculous risks. I rightly picked the boundary balls. I felt in control of the game and I was always one step ahead of the bowlers,” Maxwell told reporters after the game.

Maxwell admitted that his good outing in the Big Bash league ahead of the India tour worked in his favour. “We played a lot of Big Bash and coming into the T20Is, it helped a lot. I am looking at consistency in my performances,” he offered.

It is clear that Maxwell is trying hard to convince the selectors that the international duty is his utmost priority. In a bid to earn the Baggy green again, the big-hitter has decided to skip the Indian Premier League this year. As the World Cup looms, he is keen on making a mark in the five-match ODI series against India starting Saturday.   

“I just want to make the most of the opportunities. As long as I get the 80s or 100s, it doesn’t matter in which position I play in. And in ODI cricket, with the wickets drying out and the ball getting older, it’s not always easy to go for big runs. But it’s always nice to bat up the order and if a chance crops up, I am ready to take it,” he explained.

 

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