DUBAI // Welcome back, Mr Maxwell, it has been too long. In the six months since the Indian Premier League (IPL) packed up its technicolour bunting and retreated to India, not much has changed with Glenn Maxwell.
Different colour kit and a different team, maybe. But same spectacular results. And it was always supposed to be Shahid Afridi who was the biggest show in this particular town. Not any more.
Of course, Maxwell has reinvented himself as a bowler, now. Well, why not?
Back in February, he produced super human feats with the bat in the colours of Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.
This time around he chose to star with the ball. His three for 13 with the new ball made this match something of a damp squib. Australia were never going to lose from there. Not bad for someone who bowled just 11 overs in the entire IPL.
The only errant step he took all night was chucking the ball at Sean Abbott, Australia’s debutant seamer, when he was trying to affect a run out.
The tall bowler was hit on the back of the legs as he tried to take belated evasive action. It could not have been a serious blow, though – he took a wicket, his first in international cricket, off the next delivery. He will take the Maxwell Midas touch anyway it comes.
Just as with every night back when the IPL was exiled here in February, the stadium was packed to the rafters, to see the return of Afridi and his bedraggled side. There was to be little holiday cheer for the Pakistan supporters, though.
With Saeed Ajmal and Younus Khan controversially absent, they came into the game in a muddle.
But Australia’s arrival in the UAE was not exactly smooth, either.
Three of the initial 13 man squad named for this game were absent – Mitch Marsh and Shane Watson through injury, and Pat Cummins due to Champions League T20 commitments.
As such, there were four debutants in the line up. Yet they each thrived in front of a capacity – and fervently Pakistani – crowd at Dubai Sports City.
Between them, the three rookie bowlers Abbott, Kane Richardson and Cameron Boyce, returned figures of 10 overs, four wickets for 40 runs.
Boyce enjoyed himself the most. Had his Hobart Hurricanes side not lost out in Thursday’s semi-final of the Champions League, the 25-year-old spinner would not even have been here to make his bow in Australia’s colours.
Having been handed his chance, though, he took to international cricket like a seasoned professional.
His first delivery betrayed some nerves, as he dragged down a long hop.
It went unpunished, then he was away. He dismissed Ahmed Shahzad off his first ball, with a classic leg-spinner’s dismissal, caught by his captain Aaron Finch, at slip.
He had some luck later, too, when Anwar Ali spooned a poor delivery straight to Richardson.
Once that combined effort had left Pakistan with a measly 96 for nine from their 20 overs, Australia were impossible to defend against. David Warner ended with 54 from 39 balls and ended it in a flurry of spectacular shot-making.
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