: Glenn Maxwell produced one of his famed ‘big shows’ with a pulsating maiden one-day international century off 51 balls to power Australia to 376 for nine in their crunch World Cup match with Sri Lanka in Sydney on Sunday.
The quirky all-rounder produced a dazzling array of shots in an innings of 102 with 10 fours and four sixes to set the Sri Lankans a massive 377 runs to chase under lights at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
No side batting second have made more to win a World Cup match than Ireland’s 329 for seven against England in Bangalore four years ago.
Maxwell and Shane Watson, back in the side after being dropped in Australia’s previous match against Afghanistan for repeated failures with the bat, plundered 160 runs off 13.4 overs.
Australia and Sri Lanka were battling for second place in Pool A behind runaway leaders New Zealand, with the loser of this match likely to face South Africa in the quarter-finals.
It was sensational batting by Maxwell, who thrilled the SCG full house with his audacious reverse sweeps and powerful hitting in an innings he has threatened to unleash in his previous 44 ODIs.
‘The Big Show’, as he is known, blasted his half-century off 26 balls with a pulled six off Thisara Perera and was particularly brutal with Seekkuge Prasanna, hoisting the leg-spinner for 34 off just 12 balls.
The Sri Lankans were at their wits’ end trying to find ways to stop the run riot as Maxwell and Watson took the bowlers apart.
Maxwell had a life on 93 when he top-edged Mathews and wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara scurried back and made his ground only to drop the catch, but he was out soon afterwards when caught by Lasith Malinga at mid-on.
Maxwell narrowly missed out on equalling the 50-ball record for the fastest World Cup hundred set by Ireland’s Kevin O’Brien against England in 2011.
In a solid effort by Australia’s batsmen, Watson struck 67 off 41 balls, Steve Smith hit 72 off 88 balls and skipper Michael Clarke chipped in with a run-a-ball 68.
Malinga claimed the prized wicket of David Warner in his third over, deceiving him with a change of pace and getting the Aussie opener to pop up a catch to Prasanna in the covers for nine.
The sizeable Sri Lankan contingent in the SCG crowd roared and waved their national flags as Prasanna had Aaron Finch stumped by Sangakkara for 24.
Clarke seemed hampered in running amid doubts over his full fitness from recent hamstring surgery and several times passed up an opportunity for a quick single with the eager Smith.
Clarke was bowled by Malinga, having struck six fours. He helped revive Australia’s innings in a 134-run third-wicket stand with Smith to set up a platform to attack in the final overs.
Australia suffered another setback just four balls later when Smith was magnificently caught by Thisara Perera, taking a skyed ball at long-on off Tillakaratne Dilshan.
But it just opened the way for Maxwell and Watson’s stunning stand. (AFP)