Maxwell out to reprise 'painful', nightmare-inducing Cup miracle

Allrounder is primed for his 'biggest impact' for Australia's toughest test this World Cup after heeding lessons from his sub-par IPL

While his Mumbai miracle brings back more memories of pain than pleasure, Glenn Maxwell shapes as the most plausible figure to give Afghanistan more nightmares when the two teams meet in conditions expected to be the toughest Australia have faced in this World Cup to date.

It was only six balls, but Maxwell's late cameo against Bangladesh in their Super Eight opener in Antigua helped reassure the allrounder he is still capable of pulling off the kind of innings he played in India last year and which still keeps the Afghans up at night.

"When I go to sleep, sometimes I do think about that game – it just comes in the mind," Rashid told the ICC about Maxwell's unbeaten match-winning double-century at the Wankhede Stadium in November. "Sometimes when I think about that game, my body just changes."

On Thursday night in Antigua, it was another leg-spinner who faced Maxwell's wrath, albeit in a much smaller dose. Rishad Hossain was fresh off dismissing Travis Head and Mitch Marsh when Maxwell stunned him with a straight bullet six.

The right-hander finished with 14no from six balls to put victory in their rain-hit match beyond doubt.

Match wrap | Aussies prove too good for Bangladesh

The Aussies hope that is just a taste of what he could do against the Rashid-led attack on the biggest turning pitch of the tournament on Saturday night (10.30am Sunday AEST) in remote St Vincent.

The two teams have not met since that ODI World Cup encounter when Maxwell defied extreme cramps to post 201no and rescue Australia with one of the all-time great one-day innings.

"They haven't had a lot else to talk about in the last few months," joked Maxwell this week when asked how often fans asked him about his iconic double-century. "I do find a lot of people will come up and (talk about) that innings during the World Cup, which is nice.

"It's nice to have been able to touch and affect so many people and hopefully inspire people to want to play the game.

Mission Impossible: Mercurial Maxwell does the unthinkable

"But I've been able to park it and move on.

"Probably because it gave me so much pain – my body took so long to recover. I try not to think about it too much. Because that's the first thing I think about it, I associate it with pain."

The "not a lot else to talk about" is a reference chiefly to his recent struggles in the Indian Premier League, where he relegated himself to the Royal Challengers Bangaluru bench during the tournament.

Maxwell, who averaged just 5.77 in nine innings, admitted he got "sucked into the pace" of a tournament that broke records for its rapid scoring rates.

"You set up as a power hitter and that's all your focus goes towards and you're thinking more about hitting the boundaries every ball instead of still playing your strengths," the 35-year-old told reporters after Australia's 28-run win over Bangladesh.

"Tonight, I went back to what I do really well, which is start my innings with good cricketing shots. Backing my ability to manipulate fields and try and stick to that."

Maxwell started his World Cup with a golden duck against Oman (caught at cover to one of the catches of the tournament) and made an important (if not fluent) 28 against defending champions England, before getting bowled by spinner Mark Watt against Scotland.

Oh man! Maxwell's golden duck after skipper's screamer

"I think over the past few games I've been a little bit tentative … just been trying to poke one into the gap and get the one," he said.

"I've got to play to the strengths that I have a bit more often. You can play as many games as you want in the world, but sometimes your mind can sometimes start to play a few tricks on you and you've got to get your way into the game and start to look at previous scores.

"At this stage in tournaments, I think I've just gone back to what I do really well and hopefully that holds me in good stead."

Ricky Ponting suggested before the Bangladesh game that Australia could consider swapping the red-hot No.5 Marcus Stoinis and Maxwell in the order to kick-start the latter's tournament.

But Maxwell seems certain to stay at the No.4 spot that Matthew Wade has labelled the hardest position to bat in.

Selection chief George Bailey revealed Australia's internal analysis showed the Kingstown pitch was offering between five and seven degrees of spin from the 'good' part of the pitch earlier in the tournament.

Since then, South Africa and Bangladesh have registered the two lowest first-innings scores to win in this World Cup; 7-115 and 106 were both enough to win their respective group matches against Nepal.

Given Maxwell is considered one of his country's leading players of spin, the Australians will be eager for him to face as many balls as possible against the likes of Rashid (who shone in their 47-run defeat to India), Mohammad Nabi and Noor Ahmad.

"I probably enjoy it when it's a bit tough," he said.

"I think your skill can shine through on those tougher wickets. It's not as easy as swinging through the line all the time. You've got to be smart and pretty adaptive to what's in front of you.

"That felt like the challenge of that England game where myself and Mitch (Marsh) had to plan our way through and set it up for the back end. It was probably different to an extent where the openers went so well and got off to such a good start.

"I think that sort of batting is so valuable in these conditions. The difference sometimes between 110 and 135 in some of those kinds of conditions. I feel like that's where I can have my biggest impact."

2024 ICC Men's T20 World Cup

Australia's squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Australia's Group B fixtures

June 6: Beat Oman by 39 runs

June 9: Beat England by 36 runs

June 12: Beat Namibia by nine wickets

June 16: Beat Scotland by five wickets

Australia's Super Eight fixtures

21 June: Beat Bangladesh by 28 runs (DLS)

23 June: v Afghanistan, Arnos Vale Ground, St Vincent, 10.30am AEST

25 June: v India, Daren Sammy National Cricket Stadium, St Lucia, 12.30am AEST

Semi-finals to follow if Australia qualify

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