Maxi magic seals series for Australia

17 January 2016

Allrounder comes up trumps with superb 96 to lead nervy run-chase in third ODI against India

Victoria Bitter ODI Series v India, Third ODI


The match in a tweet: Maxi delivers series win! Allrounder steers Australia home in another record-breaking run chase 

WATCH: Magnificent Maxwell stuns India

The hero: Often unfairly maligned by some, Glenn Maxwell (96 from 83 balls) steered his side to a tense victory tonight with a superb performance under pressure. The allrounder helped rebuild the innings with Shaun Marsh after the loss of Steve Smith and George Bailey before lifting the tempo in the final overs when the required run rate ballooned beyond seven runs an over. In many ways it was a typical innings from Maxwell, including a reverse sweep for four, an outrageous slap down the ground for six, some incredible shots in the final over and then, unfortunately for him, his wicket as he chased the winning runs and a century in one final big shot.

Watch: Marsh shines with sparkling fifty

The support cast: Two players who have been in and out of this ODI side in recent years - Shaun Marsh and John Hastings - did their chances of more action this series no harm with some strong performances here. Hastings was retained in the squad following a good showing in Brisbane and produced career-best figures of 4-58 as Australia kept the tourists under 300. Marsh then followed up his 71 in Brisbane with another half-century, but he may well be the man to sit out again if David Warner returns to the squad for the rest of the series.

Watch: Hastings' career-best haul

The consolation effort: Having averaged just 15 from seven ODIs against Australia in Australia before this series began, Virat Kohli has peeled off scores of 91, 59 and 117 to add to an ODI career that could one day challenge that of the great Sachin Tendulkar. Kohli's century today, his 24th in ODI cricket, took him beyond 7000 career runs and added to his brilliant 169 at this venue in the Boxing Day Test last summer. The 27-year-old averages a century every 6.71 innings in ODI cricket and is already almost halfway to Tendulkar's record of 49 career centuries. The shot that moved him from 95 to 99 today, a violent snap of the wrists that sent a straight Kane Richardson delivery flying over mid-wicket and to the boundary, was breathtaking.

Watch: King Kohli's ODI ton No.24

The moment: A risky third run, a brilliant throw and a clever bluff set the MCG alight in the 36th over of Australia's run chase. Maxwell crunched one to deep cover and, running to the danger end, called Mitchell Marsh through for a tight third run. But a brilliant gather and throw from Umesh Yadav in the deep found Marsh just short of his ground and the predominantly Indian crowd exploded. Marsh didn't appear to stride out to his absolute best during the third run, perhaps outfoxed by MS Dhoni behind the stumps, who casually approached the wicket before whipping off the bails in a flash. And how about that celebration from Virat Kohli? 

Watch: Marsh's run-out

The catch I: Steve Smith makes cricket look almost too easy at times. Having hammered the Indian bowlers all around Australia for the past two summers, the skipper was at his best in the field today in brilliant a double act with Glenn Maxwell on the boundary line. The skipper moved swiftly to his right on the rope at long-on when Ajinkya Rahane latched on to a John Hastings delivery, calmly taking the ball with both hands as his momentum threatened to carry him over the rope. Not to worry, Smith calmly flicked the ball back into play to the approaching Maxwell, not even breaking stride as he stradled the rope and then accepted a high five from Maxwell. Brilliant.

Watch: Smith, Maxwell combine for classic

The catch II: Despite Smith's effort above, this fan demonstrated that hyper-awareness is not always essential when it comes to catching a cricket ball.

Watch: Oblivious fan catch in the crowd

The crowd: The 47,638 crowd was only half the size as it was at the World Cup match here between India and South Africa last year, but the MCG again turned blue by thousands of screaming Indian supporters tonight. Australia's Indian community turned out in big numbers in both Perth and Brisbane, but their presence here today easily outweighed the number of local supporters to create a fantastic atmosphere throughout the match.

The stat: Maxwell's career strike-rate is now an incredible 125.22 from 58 matches, the highest of any batsman in ODI cricket to have faced more than 1000 deliveries.

What it all means: The series secure, Australia will head to Canberra for the fourth match of the series on Wednesday before the final game in Sydney on Saturday. India's bowlers delivered a vast improvement tonight, but they still look to be one strike bowler short so will look to address that before Wednesday. Australia will name their squad for the final two matches tomorrow.

Australia: Shaun Marsh, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith (capt), George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Scott Boland, Kane Richardson.

India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (capt), Gurkeerat Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishi Dhawan, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Barinder Sran.