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Early aggression key to breaking T20 curse

Glenn Maxwell has urged Australia’s top order to make an early statement if they are forced to beat the curse of batting first in their Twenty20 semi-final against an unbeaten Pakistan.

The success of chasing teams has remained the talking point of the T20 World Cup, with sides batting second winning nine of the 10 games at Dubai’s International Stadium.

Included in those losses is Australia’s heavy defeat to England, where they fell in a heap early and never recovered as they posted 125.

But Maxwell does have experience setting a total and winning in Dubai, where matches have been low-scoring and dew is a big issue for bowling teams trying to contain batters late at night.

He was man of the match in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s only game batting first at the ground in the recent IPL, hitting 56 from 37 in their win over Mumbai.

It also marked the last win for teams batting first at the ground in the rest of the regular season of the IPL, as the next seven chasing teams were triumphant.

And with Australia playing seven specialist bats, Maxwell claims their only option is to go hard early and play with intent throughout rather than trying to set up for a big finish.

“I’ve seen it done a few different ways. I think for us, it’s just to play with freedom,” Maxwell said.

“We got to back the fact that we’ve got a really strong top order. We’re playing the extra batter.

“We’ve got a fair bit of batting there and to know that we’ve probably barely used our No.5, 6 and 7 throughout the tournament.

“I’ve seen teams go the other way and try and hold wickets back to make sure they get to go at the back end.

“But for us it’s probably that playing with freedom at the start and really trying to make the most of the powerplay and put the opposition on the backfoot.”

Australia’s top-order prowess has also meant Maxwell has had little to do with the bat in the tournament, after a score of 18 in the first game against South Africa.

He has faced just 15 balls since, finishing the last two games at the non-strikers’ end without being required to bat in Australia’s wins.

But after landing in the UAE for the IPL in September, he’s not fussed by a lack of time in the middle.

“I’ve done so much work in training and I’ve been here for two months,” Maxwell said.

“I know the conditions really well. It doesn’t matter if I haven’t batted for a few days or what not.

“I feel like I’m still in that headspace of where it was during the IPL where I was hitting the ball really cleanly and feel ready to play whatever role I need to when I get out there.”

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