Pakistan were perfectly placed to complete their highest successful chase against Australia, thanks to opener Abid Ali’s record-breaking ton on debut and Mohammad Rizwan’s second century in three matches.
Ali (112) and Rizwan (104) shared a 144-run stand, guiding their team to a point where they needed 66 from the final 10 overs in Dubai.
Adam Zampa’s dismissal of Ali in the 42nd over gave the visitors hope, before Nathan Coulter-Nile snagged two wickets. The Pakistanis were duly left requiring 17 runs off the final over, with Marcus Stoinis handed the pill.
Stoinis started with a single and a wide before capturing the all-important scalp of Rizwan, who picked out Peter Handscomb in the deep.
Usman Shinwari slapped his first ball for six, then gave Handscomb more catching practice as Pakistan fell short on 8-271.
“When you’re winning games, you just find a way to win,” man of the match Maxwell said.
“If you look back six or even months ago, probably even less, we were probably on the other side of it. We were finding ways to lose when we were in winning positions.
“They were batting really well, the wicket was skidding on nicely and we just had to hang in there … that’s why I am really proud of this group.”
Coulter-Nile made a mess of Shan Masood’s stumps in the opening over but Australia’s attack, minus rested spearhead Pat Cummins and Jason Behrendorff (gastro), struggled with the dew factor throughout the middle overs.
Aaron Finch never panicked and made a couple of tactical calls during the final 10 overs that paid off, leaving five men on the fence and backing Maxwell to keep things tight.
“He was actually pretty calm … you don’t often see him that calm in a situation like that,” Maxwell said, having produced his highest score since 2015.
“They never really had that big over to break the game.”
Ali’s knock is the highest score by any Pakistan batsman on ODI debut.
A collapse of 4-45 followed a positive start from Usman Khawaja (62) and Finch (39), who set a new record for most runs by an Australian in a five-match ODI series.
Maxwell, who put on 134 runs with Alex Carey (55), was run out attempting to get back on strike during the final over.
Maxwell says ‘it’s nice to get a second chance’
Maxwell showed style and substance during his dizzying knock of 98, proving he’s capable of playing more than just cameo roles for Australia.
Maxwell, whose place in the World Cup squad was far from assured at the start of the home summer, has gone from strength to strength since arriving in India a month ago.
On Friday, the all-rounder produced his most mature innings since the 2015 World Cup to help Australia post 7-277 and ultimately win by six runs.
Maxwell marched to the middle at 4-101 in the 23rd over, when Pakistan spinners Imad Wasim and Yasir Shah had two wickets each and it was unclear whether the tourists would bat out their overs.
The Victorian finished one boundary short of what would have been the second ODI ton of his career, having started cautiously then played some outrageous strokes before being run out in the final over.
“The last two games I’ve come in a bit earlier when we’ve lost a few wickets back to back and there’s been a little bit of pressure on,” Maxwell said, having backed up his 71 in Abu Dhabi.
“Those sort of opportunities probably more come up when conditions are tough and the top order has found it difficult.
“It’s about getting through those tough times and giving myself that chance to go.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a middle-order batter … so it was nice to be there for the back end.”
I’ve made a lot of mistakes as a middle-order batter … so it was nice to be there for the back end.
Maxwell offered a caught-behind chance on 10 but then settled, passing 50 in 53 balls by taking measured rather than manic risks.
The excitement machine teed off late with trademark funky footwork and outrageous strokes that manipulated the field.
Maxwell barely ate before the game-changing dig and didn’t eat during the innings break. The 30-year-old felt dizzy during the early stages of Pakistan’s innings but regained composure with the help of the team doctor.
Maxwell, who has been dismissed five times in the 90s in ODIs, insisted he wasn’t worried about the personal milestone.
“I’m not going to look back on my career when I’m done and think about all the hundreds I’ve missed,” he said.
The gifted batsman was clean bowled on 76 by Usman Shinwari in the 47th over but recalled when replays revealed it was a clear no-ball.
“I looked up and saw JL (coach Justin Langer) behind the laptop and he started smiling and put his hand up,” Maxwell said.
“It was nice to get a second chance.”