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Australia's Glenn Maxwell celebrates after scoring a century against the Netherlands in New Delhi on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Glenn Maxwell smashing a 40-ball century isn’t a surprise. The Australian has been doing just that throughout his career. The 35-year-old, nicknamed Maxi, has been one of the fastest scorers in world cricket. He’s been having a quiet World Cup until the Netherlands ran into Australia in Delhi on Wednesday.

Australia were 267 for 7 in the 40th over, and with three quick wickets the Dutch fancied their chances of keeping the score under 300. That’s when Maxwell walked to the crease. He had been averaging 12.4 in ODIs this year and hadn’t hit an ODI ton in India since 2017. 

It was the slog overs: the perfect time for Maxi to attack. He didn’t need an invitation. After a couple drives down the field, followed by a cover drive, the man from Melbourne launched into a series of reverse sweeps and switch hits, some of them landing over the ropes. They are unconventional strokes, but Maxwell is an unconventional player. That makes it difficult to set a field to restrict his scoring.

Brutal assault

Dutch bowlers Logan van Beek and Bas de Leede bore the brunt of Maxwell’s blazing blade, and runs came in torrents. When they bowled up to him, he lifted them straight over their heads and over midwicket. Yorkers were sliced to the point boundary, and short balls were brutally pulled for sixes. Maxwell’s half-century came in 26 balls, and the century in 40 balls.

That erased the 49-ball hundred by South Africa’s Aiden Markram from the World Cup record books. Makram’s knock remained the fastest ton for only 18 days and came against Sri Lanka at the same venue.

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Maxwell plays one of his many switch hits during his thrilling knock. Image Credit: AFP

South Africa’s AB de Villiers holds the record for fastest ODI century, reaching the landmark in 31 balls against the West Indies in Johannesburg in 2015. Maxwell’s hundred is the fourth fastest century in ODI cricket, behind New Zealand’s Corey Anderson (36 balls) and Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi (37 balls).

Hitting reverse sweeps with precision

Maxwell finished with a 44-ball 106 (9 fours and 8 sixes) when Sybrand Engelbrecht caught him at the long-off fence, off the bowling of Van Beek. By then Australia were in sight of 400, but the Netherlands pulled it short by a run.

How does Maxwell hit those reverse sweeps with such precision? In an onfield chat with broadcasters Star Sports, he said: “[It’s] just about getting a read of the bowler. For those who bowl quick, my hands have to be faster. Some may go for six, but generally, I’m trying to get it just over the infield...[It] could’ve been a better score, but they were outstanding in the field. The ball seems to travel here [at the Arun Jaitely Stadium in Delhi].”

Maxwell’s form is good news for Australia, which seemed to be heavily reliant on openers Mitch Marsh and David Warner. That will be a fillip to Australia as they chase a semi-final slot after a couple of losses.