As keen as they are on winning the Twenty20 series, Australia want to try out various options to test the forces for the World T20. For Friday’s second game, the hosts will be without top guns David Warner and Steve Smith as part of their rotation policy.
It will not mean India will have it easier. If Glenn Maxwell is fit for the game, Australia will have a batsman with the confidence and ability to take on the India spinners.
Having recovered from the blow he took on his leg during the fourth ODI at the Manuka Oval, Maxwell is expected to be a direct replacement for Smith. Not only will it give the Australian Board a crowd-puller at its biggest stadium -- Melbourne Cricket Ground --- the team will have an ideal man to provide the X factor.
First of all, his presence at the crease straightaway puts the bowler under pressure. With his 360-degree strokeplay, the opposition captain is under the pump trying to plug the gaps on both sides of the field.
Even India are looking to test their artillery for the World T20, being held in their backyard. Maxwell can provide the challenge the Indian selectors will want their spinners to take on. Ashwin and Jadeja found it easy against the other Australia batsmen in the opener at the SCG. In their earlier battles against Maxwell, he has put them to sword, in Australia as well as in the subcontinent.
The big weapon
The switch-hit is his main weapon, used to unsettle and put a spinner off his line. He did that against Ashwin in the last bilateral one-day series in India and in the IPL as well.
Jadeja and his captain will need no reminder than in the last game they played at the MCG, as the local star single-handedly took the game away. He lived up to his nickname ‘Big Show’ at the Manuka Oval as well, in the slog overs.
“Maxwell can just come in and take the game away from the opposition incredibly quickly. He’s got all the shots. He hits the ball wherever he wants. You can’t really captain against him because wherever you set the field, he’s going to hit where the fielders aren’t,” warned senior partner Shane Watson, who shares a great equation with Maxwell while batting and off the field.
The middle overs of the Australian innings will be closely watched, having lost momentum in their chase in Adelaide during that phase. The spinners will be encouraged by how the MCG wicket played in the ODI. Then, Jadeja was the lone spinner. Here, he will have Ashwin operating from the other end.
But, they will have Maxwell to contend with.