Gillette ODI Series v India

Debate continues on Maxwell's best spot

The discussion surrounding the best spot for Glenn Maxwell in Australia's ODI batting lineup continues

Andrew Ramsey

14 January 2019, 05:55 PM AEST

Carey eyes series victory at home

So widespread has been the debate surrounding Glenn Maxwell's ranking in Australia's ODI batting order that even their current opponents, India, have publicly expressed surprise that the all-rounder is not slated to appear higher than number seven.

But on the eve of the teams' second Gillette Series match – which could potentially secure Australia their first ODI series win in two years – vice-captain Alex Carey has revealed the thinking behind holding back Maxwell until late in the batting innings.

With the prospect of Maxwell's incandescent shot making adding a final flourish, rather than having him carry the burden of batting through the middle overs which has, at times, proved problematic for the mercurial Victorian in the past.

The decision to shift Maxwell below fellow Victorian Peter Handscomb and another all-rounder Marcus Stoinis in last Saturday's Gillette ODI Series opener in Sydney brought an immediate response from former greats and Australia fans.

On the eve of tomorrow's day-night fixture at Adelaide Oval, the mid-point of the three-match series, India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar was asked for his thoughts on Maxwell's deployment as a latter-overs hitter rather than a middle-order lynchpin.

"Personally, (I) was thinking that he could come in up the order so when Stoinis came (in at number six), I was expecting him (Maxwell) to come up," said Kumar, who has seen up close Maxwell's match-wining capabilities in the IPL since 2013.

He then added diplomatically: "It's their (Australia's) call, so we can't say anything on that."

Kumar keen to make Adelaide impact

However, Carey said that the luxury of having Maxwell in the sheds and raring to go whenever the partnership between Handscomb and Stoinis – who added 68 from 59 balls for the sixth wicket – ended was a source of confidence for the struggling unit.

As well as a tick of accomplishment for those above them in a batting line-up that has battled to see out their 50-over allocation of late, and had won just three of their preceding 23 ODIs heading into the SCG game.

Carey pointed out that Maxwell has batted at every position from opener to number eight in his 87-game ODI career stretching back to 2012, and that the finishing power he offers at number seven is exciting for a team building for a World Cup defence later this year.

"He's had lots of opportunities up the order before, and the other night having him in the sheds when there's three overs to go, it means you've done something right through the middle and the top-order," Carey said today.

"So you could argue the point that he could be batting higher.

"Personally, sitting next to him with three overs to go, it's pretty exciting to have that power hitting later in the innings.

"He doesn't need too many balls to make a big impact.

"You've got Stoinis (who remained 47 not out from 43 balls faced on Saturday) there and you saw what he did, and you saw what Peter Handscomb did through the middle (73 off 61).

"So I guess you can argue that he (Maxwell) could bat anywhere in that side."

Aussies bounce back to outclass India

A majority of Maxwell's 78 ODI innings have come at either number five (32 times for an average of 33.87 and strike rate of 123 per 100 balls faced) or number six (29 times at an average of 29.23 and a marginally lower strike rate of 112).

In his eight innings at number seven in the ODI batting order, Maxwell's average is almost 50 (49.50) at a rate of around 124 per 100 balls faced, which indicates the value he brings to back-end of an innings.

Given that Australia's top-order fragility has been its great point of concern in both Test and ODI cricket over the past year or so, the decision to save Maxwell was perhaps vindicated on Saturday even if his talents were not called upon until the 48th over.

Should that formula prove successful once more in tomorrow's day-night game, that will be played amid forecast 41C heat in Adelaide, then Australia will break an ODI series drought that has endured since their 4-1 triumph over Pakistan at home in January 2017.

Of greater consequence, according to Carey, is the prospect of forging a strong unit in the absence of banned duo Steve Smith and David Warner, and in preparation for the World Cup defence that begins in the UK next June.

Richardson fires with four India wickets

By which time the experienced batting duo, along with fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins (all rested from this Gillette Series) will be available for selection.

"I guess a series win would be a great result and really big confidence booster," Carey said of the possibility of sixth-ranked Australia securing a series win against the world's second-ranked ODI outfit, India.

"But to continue to get better every game is probably our biggest process at the moment leading into that World Cup. 

"Against India, they're a really good side so they're going to look to bounce back pretty quickly.

"So it's going to be a great opportunity to stand up tomorrow night, to puff our chests out again and hopefully put another really good performance.

"I think the other night was a really big step forward and we can improve from that, definitely. 

"The three quick that played the Test series (against India) and played last series (of ODIs against South Africa) aren't in this series so it is a really good opportunity for (Jason) Behrendorff, (Jhye) Richardson and (Peter) Siddle who all played really well the other night.

"It was a great opportunity for me, too, at the top of the order and Peter Handscomb coming back in. 

"If you look across the list, there are so many opportunities for guys to put their hand up and really make a spot their own. 

"So, not only is it a good lead up to the World Cup it is a really good opportunity for guys to say 'that's my spot, I want that spot'."

Gillette ODI Series v India

Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Adam Zampa

India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill

First ODI: Australia won by 34 runs

Second ODI: January 15, Adelaide Oval (D/N)

Third ODI: January 18, MCG (D/N)