Louis Cameron, at Blundstone Arena
Louis Cameron, at Blundstone Arena
Final-ball six seals epic century to complement three wickets in a dominant Australia victory
The match in a tweet: Mighty Maxi survives contentious call in stunning all-round effort to lead Aussies to second straight win of T20 tri-series
The scorecard: England 9-155 (Malan 50, Maxwell 3-10, Agar 2-15) defeated by Australia 5-161 (Maxwell 103*, Willey 3-28) by five wickets
The Maxwell show: Where to start? Forever in the action, Glenn Maxwell was the match-winner with both bat and ball in a stunning performance, hitting his second T20 International century after a commanding bowling effort. Maxwell stood with arms aloft after leading Australia home by five wickets, bringing up his century off the final ball of the innings with a six off Mark Wood.
He also found himself at the centre of the night's major talking point (more on that below).
His night didn't get off to the finest of starts after dropping Alex Hales, on five, at backward point in the Power Play. From that point on though, he hardly put another foot wrong, firstly claiming 3-10 in a game-turning bowling effort. Remarkably, he might not have bowled if Travis Head's first over hadn't gone for 14. The Victorian however made the most of his opportunity with the ball, finding himself on a hat-trick an over after removing the dangerous Eoin Morgan, with Dawid Malan and David Willey perishing in consecutive balls (the latter's a "stupid" shot, according to Kevin Pietersen on commentary) trying to up the tempo.
And if he hadn't expected to bowl, Maxwell certainly would not have anticipated coming to the crease in the first over with his side 2-4 with David Warner and Chris Lynn in the sheds. Initially watchful, Maxwell unleashed with a series of typically brilliant strokes, with a back foot swipe for six off leggie Adil Rashid perhaps the standout. Hales returned Maxwell's earlier favour when he put him down on 40, but he continued on unaffected, bringing up his century off just 58 balls to ice the game.
The talking point: This incident will no doubt polarise fans, with Michael Clarke adamant on commentary that Maxwell should have been given out on 59 when his lofted drive found the hands of long-off fielder Jason Roy. But Maxwell stood his ground and although debutant umpire Gerald Abood's soft signal was out, third umpire CM Brown deemed Roy did not complete the catch. Your verdict?
The spin: Adam Zampa may have counted himself a little unlucky to have gotten the chop for this match as he watched Australia's spin pair of Ashton Agar and Glenn Maxwell take 5-25 off their combined five overs. Assistant coach Ricky Ponting told ABC Grandstand pre-match that this Blundstone Arena track has typically offered the slow bowlers little during the KFC BBL, the likely reason behind Zampa's omission. While part-time offie Travis Head, the man who came in for Zampa, saw his only over dispatched for 14, Agar and Maxwell stepped up and suffocated England's misfiring top-order. Their five scalps – all of whom were top-seven batsman – suggests the hosts could have misread the conditions, although England's sole spinner Adil Rashid failed to make the same impact with a return of 1-30 from four overs.
The collapse: This England limited-overs side have put an emphasis on attacking at all costs but tonight it backfired spectacularly after looking on track for a monster total. They took 60 runs off Australia's first six overs but chaos was sparked by the dismissal of skipper Eoin Morgan in the 10th over. The visitors proceeded to lose 7-43, incluiding 5-18 in an astonishing run of play, with a succession of England batsman desperately trying to keep the run-rate to tick along at over 10 rather than consolidate. Although they managed to scrap their way to a competitive total, they had looked on track for a tally above 200.
The consolation effort: Dawid Malan spent most of January running drinks, having been left on the sidelines for the entirety of England's Gillette ODI campaign, but he showed no signs of rust in his return to the top flight. The left-hander spoke earlier this week of the challenge he expected Billy Stanlake to pose, but he raced to 16 off five balls after smashing the enormous paceman for three boundaries in four balls. While his 36-ball 50 was easily England's top score, his exit to Maxwell came with his side in the midst of a tail-spin.
The catch: It was far from remarkable at first glance, but Ashton Agar's effort to dodge the non-striker Dawid Malan and complete a caught-and-bowled off Alex Hales showed some serious composure. Agar had to slip behind Malan to pouch an otherwise straightforward chance and left his teammates in no doubt that he'd been completely blindsided.
The support cast: D'Arcy Short admitted during the week he'd immediately noticed that international cricket appeared a significant step up in standard, but the BBL star looked at home in just his second game after Australia's early stumble. Untroubled by the pace of Mark Wood, Short crunched the speedster for consecutive early boundaries while a pair of sixes had his partnership with Maxwell rollicking along. While he's made great strides against spin bowling in the shortest format this BBL season, Adil Rashid's crafty leg-spin ultimately got the better of him.
The stat: it's a sign of Australia's inexperienced bowling attack that, of the seven bowlers they used tonight, Maxwell has the most T20I wickets. The off-spinner now has 20 scalps at 34 (economy rate 7.46), which suggests he's better the 'part-time' billing afforded to him.
The wash-up: These two sides face now head to Melbourne and face-off against each other again at the MCG on Saturday in the final match of this tri-series on Australian soil before the action moves across the Tasman.
Australia XI: David Warner (c), D'Arcy Short, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (wk), Ashton Agar, Andrew Tye, Kane Richardson, Billy Stanlake
England XI: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, David Willey, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Billings, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan, Tom Curran, Mark Wood
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
Australia squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.
England squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler.
First T20I Australia won by seven wickets. Scorecard
Second T20I Australia win by five wickets. Scorecard
Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21