Maxwell throws mathematics out to write history books  

That was the case for Australia when Glenn Maxwell came out to bat in the chase against Afghanistan.
Glenn Maxwell single-handedly took Australia to victory (Photo | AP)
Glenn Maxwell single-handedly took Australia to victory (Photo | AP)

CHENNAI:  Mathematical models that predict wins and losses are supposed to make one's life easy while following a sport. When it comes to this edition of the Cricket World Cup, if the win predictor gives a team less than a 10% chance to win the match, one can forget any team coming out of that slump.

That was the case for Australia when Glenn Maxwell came out to bat in the chase against Afghanistan. But by the time he was done, Maxwell had smashed 201 not out off 128 balls, showing the limitations of mathematical models in cricket with his sheer grit. "I think that's the greatest ODI innings," Australian captain Pat Cummins, who supported Maxwell with his 12 off 68 balls from the other end declared in Mumbai. "It's one of those days where you just go, I was there in the stadium the day Glenn Maxwell chased down that total by himself. He was cramping but I think you saw out there how much he loves playing for Australia and do anything to play. I'm sure he’ll be fine."

Photo: AFP 
Photo: AFP 

Maxwell, in his marathon innings that lasted 181 minutes, suffered from severe cramps and back spasms and had to take help of the physios on multiple occasions. At one point, Adam Zampa, slated to play at 10 even came down from the dressing room and stood near the boundary ropes, but Maxwell kept fighting even when his legs were not moving and his running between the wickets resembled to the walk of Charlie Chaplin. Even with all of it Maxwell put on a show that commentator Ian Smith described, "He's got nothing but hands and will."

Even Cummins was finding it hard to put into words. "It's a one-man show. It looks so easy. I'm up the other end and I don't see any gaps in the field. I don't see where I'm going to score a boundary and it seems like every time, he sees that he just runs away for four. He still can't move and still manages to hit a six off the third man with reverse – he’s a freak, he hits into different areas. And when you're up against someone like that as a bowler, you don't have many options," said Cummins, the bowler who was aware of the challenge Afghanistan bowlers faced against the right-hander.

The Big Max Show was not always on card as Cummins admitted the team was looking to score at least 200 runs to get help on the Net Run Rate front when he joined Maxwell at 91/7. But they found a way to seal the sixth consecutive win of the tournament and the semi-final spot in Mumbai. "When I went out there, I thought if we can somehow scratch the 200, our net run rate should be pretty good for the semis. When Maxi got his 100, I kind of thought, wow, we're within 120 or something. And then I still thought, no way. So, I reckon it wasn't until the spinners were just about done and there was maybe 40 off 40 or something where I thought okay even if Maxie gets out here, I reckon the other guys can get it done," Cummins explained.

Despite what was one of the greatest individual performances in the tournament history, Cummins is well aware that his team has not played their best cricket yet. "Today was a bit of an outlier, Maxie dragged us out of that one, but like with the bat we've been aggressive, we've taken the games on, we're putting the pressure back onto the opposition. I still don't think we've put a complete game together," he said.

These are the types of games that make mathematics bow down in front of sheer determination. Historically, these are the situations where Australians thrive. With their semi-final date set with South Africa, it is a chance to add another silverware to that trophy cabinet for Australia. With knocks like this, they might just do it. Yet again.

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The New Indian Express