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Maxwell was in ‘full body pain’ during ‘greatest’ ODI innings

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MUMBAI: Overcoming an attack of full body cramping, Glenn Maxwell’s outrageous double-century to beat Afghanistan at the World Cup was qui­ckly hailed as the greatest ODI innings of all-time by cricketing luminaries.

For the Australian all-rounder, though, it was just “great fun”.

The mercurial Maxwell smacked a remarkable 201 not out 201 off 128 balls in Mumbai on Tuesday, single-handedly guiding Australia to an improbable three-wicket win that sealed their spot in the semi-finals.

It was only the third double hundred in World Cup history and the first in a run chase.

“It was great fun. It just felt like it was me and Patty [Cummins] just having fun out there,” he told reporters of the partnership with his captain, having come together at 91 for seven before they successfully chased 292 for victory.

“We were keeping each other pretty calm with jokes most of the time. “When he first came out, he goes, ‘Don’t worry, they’re four overs down, they’re going to have an extra fielder in for the last four overs’. We just tried to keep the mood nice and light. Obviously, it wasn’t an ideal situation, but we just tried to relax each other as much as we could.”

Australia’s first double-century maker in ODIs, Maxwell also became the first anywhere to reach 200 during an ODI chase.

He became the third player to score 200 at a World Cup, following Chris Gayle’s 219 against Zimbabwe in 2015 and Martin Guptill’s 237 not out against West Indies in 2015.

Cummins declared Maxwell’s knock “the greatest ODI innings” and plenty agreed, including former England captain Michael Vaughan and Australia’s past master-blaster Adam Gilchrist.

“From Max pressure to Max performance! This has been the best ODI knock I’ve seen in my life,” Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar said on X, formerly Twitter, while ex-India coach Ravi Shastri called it “stunning”.

Former India all-rounder and cricket analyst Irfan Pathan went a step further, calling it the “best ever white ball inning” on social media.

England’s Ben Stokes simply said: “My goodness Maxi”, while former West Indies fast bowler Ian Bishop hailed it as a reminder of “the intrinsic beauty, unpredictability and inspiring drama of this wonderful game”.

Maxwell’s night looked over when on 147 he slumped to the ground after taking a single. Cramped up in both legs, he also suffered a back spasm while lying down.

He admitted discussing with Australian physio Nick Jones whether he should retire after his body gave up and he sank to the ground with 55 runs still needed to win.

But with a place in the World Cup semi-finals at stake, he defied the discomfort.

“It was a strange one, because I was cramping in one of my toes, which was sort of going up the front of my shin. And then as I set off to try and get down the other end, I cramped in that calf as well,” he said.

“So I was cramping both sides of my lower leg. And as I went ‘Oh no, I’m cramping,’ I cramped in my left hamstring at the same time. So I was like, ‘I’ve got both legs.’ And then I had a back spasm when I hit the ground. So I was just like full body just in pain.”

Jones suggested he should retire, but Maxwell was having none of it after being told the chances of being able to return after treatment, if needed, were not good.

“We talked about coming off, trying to get some work into my back and trying to loosen up my legs a little bit,” said the 35-year-old, who missed Australia’s previous match due to a concussion after falling off a golf cart.

“Jonesy, the physio, said it would be really hard for me to come back down the stairs after that. We just came up with ‘let’s stay at the same end’ for as long as you can until you feel like you can walk to the other end or if there’s an easy single here and there.”

So Maxwell elected to plough on and rely mostly on his reflexes and hands to smash anything in the zone.

“That probably made the job a bit more simple,” he said. “It wasn’t all just, like, chaotic swinging but there was a bit of planning to it.”

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2023


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