Glenn Maxwell stands tallest in adversity to deliver Australia their knocks-out blow

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Glenn Maxwell was down. He scored his 147th run – the 35th single of his innings – and crumpled to the turf at Wankhede, clutching his hamstring, his face contorted in pain. As his muscles tightened and spasmed, Maxwell slumped to the ground, his movements involuntary as his lower body took on a mind of its own. In an attempt to calm it down, Australian physiotherapist Ben Jones explained to Maxwell that if he left, it would probably be difficult to come back. In the distance, Adam Zampa comes down the changing-room stairs, ready to take Maxwell’s place. And that’s when he decided it wasn’t going to happen.

Maxwell was down, but he wasn’t out and he certainly didn’t want to be.

He got up and moved to the non-striker’s end, one hand on his hip to steady his lower back Pat Cummins The remaining overs are tackled, four balls in all. Under normal circumstances, they could have released the two of them, but these were no normal circumstances. Australia recovered from 91 for 7 in pursuit of their highest successful World Cup chase. Maxwell had already scored his career-best fourth ODI century and now has a place in the semi-finals as a prize. But only if Maxwell stayed there and, as long as he knew he could hit, but not run, he was going to do so.

Maxwell struck in the next over Azmatullah Omarzai Stand at deep mid-wicket. He tried to reach a ball, missed it and stood up. And then he slapped Azmatullah for a one-bounce four and stood still. He wasn’t looking so much as trying to keep himself from doubling over, as he had done several times before. He knew the runs would come, but only on the boundary.

In the next six overs, Maxwell hit five fours and five sixes, and as he did so, he reduced batting to one of its most brutal fundamentals: boundary or bust. That said, it sounds like a simple method, but watch how Maxwell does it and you’ll see that it’s almost impossible for anyone else.

With strong wrists, Maxwell is Australia’s most destructive spin player, so Afghanistan’s quartet did not fear him. He busted out sweeps, reverse-sweeps and slug-sweeps… except he didn’t, because he couldn’t move. Instead, he leaned into his strokes from a standing position – even his signature shot: clear-the-front-leg-and-dispatch-over-the-leg-side, which of course he couldn’t clear, because he was only standing in the first place. had a foot for

He could almost swivel, though he could not run, which emphasized his ability to create space where other batsmen could not and find gaps in the field by reversing his position and hitting the wicketkeeper’s head.

But as incredible as the strokes were, and as heroic an innings as it was – what Cummins called “perhaps the greatest ODI innings ever” – its most romantic part was born of frustration, and it was certainly not flawless.

Australia were 49 for 4 when Maxwell came to the crease in the ninth over; He was on 11 when he hit Rashid Khan at short midwicket and departed for a run without waiting to see if Marnus Labuschagne was as keen. Labuschagne dived but was struggling to beat Rahmat Shah’s throw and his bat was still in the air as the stumps broke. His immediate reaction was disgust. He is seen asking Maxwell “What are you doing?” As she grabbed his hand in disbelief and scowled as she turned away. The mistake was Maxwell’s, and the measure will be his.

Then, on 27, he was given out lbw to Noor Ahmed’s legbreak which hit him below the knee, and was reviewed as he resumed walking. He paused for a moment, as ball-tracking showed that the delivery would have bounced over the top of the stumps. The technology protected him but he had to rely on something – perhaps instinct, perhaps hope – to ask to use it in the first place. And it worked out. Four balls later, Maxwell was on 33 and swept Noor to Mujib at short fine but he spurned an easy chance when the ball hit his wrist. Afghanistan will have to own up to that mistake and what it will cost them – perhaps a chance at the semi-finals – but Maxwell deserves all the credit for cashing in.

What he did in the end was Pick Australia. No matter how the cause was lost, he found a way. And that’s after recovering from a freak golf-buggy-induced injury that kept him out of action for more than a week, as well as battling the kind of debilitating cramps that can temporarily cripple even the fittest of athletes. He channels and churns out his inner Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey and Michael Bevan and fuses them into a super-player that is not just the sum but the multiple of all combined. And he produced an innings that will go down as one of the most entertaining and important in ODI history, both for individual brilliance and for what it did collectively.

Australia are confirmed in the final four, and will confirm their strong tournament record, which could be the starting point for their World Cup ambitions. With five titles already in the bank, they have only lost in the knock-outs twice since losing the 1996 final – to India in 2011 and to England in 2019 – and just when it looked like a frailty was returning to the campaign after two early losses. , Maxwell was ahead to prevent it. For Maxwell, there was a poetry to the way the numbers worked.

After 40 overs, Australia needed 60 runs from 60 balls and Maxwell was 58 short of 200. In that over, he realized that he couldn’t score any more runs and so the only way for Australia to get those runs was to score them. At the boundary he and Cummins agreed that their strategy would be to bat from one end – Cummins saw a scoreless over from Noor – and Maxwell would stand and swing.

He successfully sent Omarzai to deep midwicket in the third over, crushed Naveen-ul-Haq at long-on and even hobbled three singles, which surprised Afghanistan. Maxwell was swinging with no water but Afghanistan were stunned. And then came extreme injury. 47th over. Maxwell tried to smash the first delivery over midwicket and then connected the second and third. He changed tactics to hit the fourth through the covers and, with Australia needing five to win, swatted away the fifth ball for a six that brought both victory and his 200.

And then he stood up. The pain in his legs evaporated. He stood up. Hands up, big smile. He stood up. Played the best innings, won the match, secured a place in the semi-finals, Maxwell stood and he stood tall.

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