A remarkable 40-ball century from Glenn Maxwell has set a new World Cup record, and helped Australia to an emphatic 309-run victory over the Netherlands to continue their mid-tournament form surge.
The win is the largest in World Cup history, comfortably besting the 275-run thrashing the Aussies handed Afghanistan in the 2015 tournament – and with the team’s previously ordinary net run rate duly spectacularly boosted, victory will taste all the sweeter for the men in gold given it comes with the most spectacular return to form for their most dynamic batter.
Coming to the crease at the end of the 39th over with Australia looking in danger of once again squandering a perfect platform, then watching David Warner fall for his own ton before he had faced a ball, the Victorian blaster ran riot in the death overs with a mesmerising display of ball-striking.
Maxwell would face 44 of the innings’ last 59 balls, including piling on 92 of the 103 runs he and captain Pat Cummins added for the seventh wicket, clubbing nine fours and eight sixes for his third ODI century, and second at World Cups following on from his 51-ball effort against Sri Lanka in the 2015 tournament.
Bringing up 50 off just 27 balls in classic Maxwell style via a remarkable reverse-slap for six over backward point, he’d need just 13 more to reach triple figures, with six of them sent into the Delhi stands as the Dutch death bowlers took an almighty pounding.
Five consecutive boundaries – the first two fours and the final three all sixes – off a hapless Bas de Leede took Maxwell to his ton, the bowler so frazzled by the onslaught that the milestone shot came off a waist-high no ball deposited over fine leg.
De Leede himself would enter the record books amid the carnage: after more than 17 years, former Australian quick Mick Lewis’ 113 runs conceded in South Africa’s infamous innings of 438 to run down the Aussies in 2006 has been knocked off its perch as ODI cricket’s most expensive ever, the Dutchman clubbed for 115 to sit atop the list – 55 off Maxwell’s bat alone.
His downfall for 106 in the final over saw Australia fall just one short of their third ever score of 400-plus in ODI cricket, but 399 was always going to be a bridge too far for the Netherlands.
To complete his perfect night, a rocket throw from mid-off saw Maxwell end the early onslaught of Dutch opener Vikramjit Singh (25) and put an end to whatever scant resistance the Associate nation could have offered.
Sure enough, they would crumble in spectacular fashion, four late wickets from Adam Zampa ending the run chase on 90 after just 21 overs, the 309-run margin comfortably the biggest in World Cup history, and only eight runs behind the greatest in ODIs, set by India against Sri Lanka in January this year.
As Maxwell himself revealed immediately following the innings, the devastation was made all the more remarkable by a bout of illness that had left him ‘pretty crook’ leading up to the match.
“I’ve been pretty crook all day, so I wasn’t really expecting much,” Maxwell said.
“It probably just cleared my head a little bit to be able to just go out there and play.
“When Davey [Warner] and Greeny [Cameron Green] both got out, I had to bat a little bit differently, and actually temper me down a little bit, and [it] actually made me play the situation a little bit better.”
Australia had earlier erred on the side of caution with Travis Head following his mid-week arrival in India, resisting the urge to rush the returning opener back into the team before a crunch clash with New Zealand in Dharamsala on Saturday.
While Mitchell Marsh couldn’t make good on what might be his final stint at the top of the order, skying a catch to mid-off for just 9, it looked set to make little difference when Warner and Steve Smith gave Australia a sprightly start.
With Warner looking imperious from the outset, swatting the spin of Aryan Dutt for four consecutive boundaries in just the third over, the veteran pair’s partnership seldom fell below run-a-ball pace as they traded periods of aggression.
Normally far less explosive than the left-armer, Smith began in divine touch with six boundaries in his first 23 balls to race into the 30s, a trio of fours behind square off Logan van Beek a timely reminder that to stray onto the pads of Australia’s superstar number three is unwise.
On a flat Delhi surface providing little in the way of lateral movement, the first chance offered came via a horrendous mix-up, Smith stranding Warner with a mid-pitch change of mind on a quick single to mid-on, the opener only saved by Dutch fielder Max O’Dowd’s untimely fumble and able to scramble home from three-quarters of a pitch length down.
Taking full toll just moments later with a brutal mown six off Colin Ackerman’s spin, Warner soon careened to his half-century off just 40 balls; Smith followed suit a few overs later, his early attack having mellowed into a more sedate 53-ball milestone.
1. Glenn Maxwell (Aus) – 40 balls v Netherlands, 2023
2. Aiden Markram (SA) – 49 v Sri Lanka, 2023
3. Kevin O’Brien (Ire) – 50 v England, 2011
4. Glenn Maxwell – 51 v Sri Lanka, 2015
5. AB de Villiers (SA) – 52 v West Indies, 2015
1. AB de Villiers (SA) – 31 balls v West Indies, 2015
2. Corey Anderson (NZ) – 36 v West Indies, 2014
3. Shahid Afridi (Pak) – 37 v Sri Lanka, 1996
4. Glenn Maxwell (Aus) – 40 v Netherlands, 2023
5. Asif Khan (UAE) – 41 v Nepal, 2023
With their bowling looking unthreatening, the Dutch’s understated strength this tournament – their excellent fielding – looked set to drag them back into the contest; veteran Roelof van der Merwe’s lightning reflexes at short cover appearing to reel in a screamer to remove Warner.
However, the third umpire ruled that the 38-year old had allowed the ball to graze the ground while completing the superb take, handing Warner a life he instantly took advantage of by pummelling the luckless de Leede through point for another boundary; though van der Merwe clearly learned his lesson, needing just three balls to show an improved technique and keep a sharp offering from Smith at backward point above the grass
With Smith gone for 71 and Warner beginning to stall as a second consecutive century this tournament loomed large, it took the unlikely brutal striking of Marnus Labuschagne to keep the scoring rate ticking along.
The most likely of Australia’s batting order to make way for Head’s return, the Queenslander at least ensured a difficult decision for selectors with a powerful half-century of his own.
Having taken just 27 off his first 30 balls, Labuschagne would need just 12 more to bring up his own 50 – though still positively poky by Maxwell’s later standards – a fine slog sweep against van der Merwe’s left-arm spin the pick of a fine array of shots.
Adding a second six over Dutt’s head to rocket into the 60s, Labuschagne briefly threated to make it a race to triple figures between he and Warner, who had made 19 off just 29 balls in the pair’s partnership.
One big shot too many would end those dreams, however, Labuschagne trying and failing to clear mid-on to allow de Leede a consolation prize Lewis didn’t achieve in his 2006 record-setting blitzkrieg.
When next man in Josh Inglis fell swinging for 14, soon followed by Warner holing out as well just minutes after securing his sixth World Cup century, a score of 5/267 with nearly 11 overs remaining threatened to expand into a collapse to mimic the end of Australia’s innings against Pakistan in their previous match.
Save for Cameron Green’s run out attempting a second run, caught short by a superb throw from Sybrand Engelbrecht from long range – another example of the Netherlands’ unwavering excellence in the field – the remainder of the innings would bring little joy for the embattled Associates.
Beginning in conventional fashion with a series of late glances and cuts, Maxwell’s repertoire soon expanded; his first trademark reverse – of course off the not inconsiderable pace of Paul van Meekeren took him until his 22nd ball, of course sent over point for four to bring him to 39.
But while Maxwell’s first six boundaries reached the rope on the bounce, they would be rarities from there: it would take the all-rounder 23 balls for his first six, he’d hit eight from his last 22 in a phenomenal display of ball-striking.
It was hard to know which shots were more spectacular – was it his pair of reverse-pulls over conventional point to first pass 50, and then explode into the 60s two balls later; or the trio of sixes into the leg side to go from 83 to 101 in three de Leede balls in the penultimate over?
To add to the records, Maxwell’s entrance at the end of the 39th over is the latest any centurion has come in to bat in one-day cricket history, international or domestic.
The Dutch received some small reward for their toil in the final over – though not before another remarkable Maxwell shot saw the ball ricochet off the back of his back mid-reverse and past keeper Scott Edwards for another boundary – with first the Victorian, and then Mitchell Starc, falling to the slog and a pair of outstanding catches in the deep.
A last-ball boundary from Cummins, previously content to watch Maxwell’s onslaught from the other end, ensured a fitting end to the innings, and a significant total one shy of 400 to defend.
With no other option, the Dutch began aggressively; the usually miserly Josh Hazlewood’s first over went for 14 as O’Dowd and Singh punished any width on offer.
Singh in particular looked in an ultra-aggressive mood, fortune favouring the brave as first a leading edge and then a wild thrash outside off cleared the field for back-to-back boundaries off Starc.
The left-armer wouldn’t need to wait long to exact revenge, finding a hint of swing to catch O’Dowd’s inside edge en route to the stumps for the opening breakthrough; an over later, Singh’s bright start ended with an ill-fated attempt to take on Maxwell’s menacing arm.
When Ackerman was trapped LBW by a Test match-style nip-backer from Hazlewood, the Dutch were three down, which soon became four when de Leede’s nightmare evening was concluded.
One ball after a textbook cover drive sent Cummins whistling to the boundary, the captain’s own nip-backer trapped de Leede in front, with a Dutch review finding umpire’s call on the ball clipping leg stump… enough to uphold the on-field decision of out and end a wretched night for the talented all-rounder.
Australia could do no wrong, with Warner adding his own bit of fielding magic to an excellent – but forgettable compared to Maxwell’s – century; racing around the deep square boundary, the veteran belied his age to leap like a salmon and hold onto Engelbrecht’s offering just millimetres from the boundary.
With victory secured, a chance to allow Marsh a spell was gleefully accepted by the all-rounder with two wickets inside three overs, adding to Engelbrecht’s scalp that of Teja Nidamanuru, strangled down the leg side to Inglis.
The end came quickly and brutally as Zampa ripped through the tail with four wickets inside three overs as the leg-spinner’s form surge following a rough start to the tournament continued – remarkably, having looked all at sea in losses to India and Australia, he now sits atop the World Cup’s wicket-takers list with 13 scalps.
Removing van Beek and van der Merwe in successive balls, the former edging a regulation leg break through to Inglis and the latter hopelessly misreading a wrong’un to be trapped plumb in front, Dutt’s narrow escape off the hat-trick ball as an inside edge saved him from an identical fate was all that could be salvaged from the wreckage for the Dutch.
A slider saw Dutt eventually trapped plumb LBW just an over later, before the final wicket fell in a manner befitting of the Netherlands’ night of pain; having nearly bowled van Meekeren around his legs, Inglis failed to gather the difficult take, only for the ball to ricochet out of his gloves and back onto the stumps with the number 11 out of his crease.
“We should have been better today,” was Dutch captain Edwards’ blunt summation of the enormity of his team’s defeat.
“You miss by fractions, and he [Maxwell] was just hitting us out of the park. Full credit to the Australian batting line-up, I thought they timed it quite well.
“We almost got back into it there with ten overs to go, we probably just needed to pick up Maxwell, but he obviously got going and we just couldn’t stop him.”
“100-run partnership, I thought we both contributed equally!” Cummins laughed as he praised Maxwell’s innings.
“That was just freak show. You’ve got no options as a bowler when someone’s running as hot like that. He was just fantastic – as clean hitting as you’re going to see.”
As for his team, which has responded well from two early losses to sit comfortably in fourth on the tournament table, Cummins is confident that Australia have turned the corner ahead of crunch clashes with New Zealand, England, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
“We’re starting to play to our potential and playing the style that we like to always talk about,” he said.
Australia will face tougher challenges than the Netherlands at this World Cup, especially if they plan to hold onto their top-four spot and reach the semi-finals; but if Maxwell can turn his masterclass into consistent form for the remainder of the tournament, a sixth World Cup trophy may just be back on the cards.