Mitchell Marsh has had to suffer through the most oppressive conditions he’d ever faced in Rajkot’s stifling heat while stroking a wonderful 96 in Australia’s drought-breaking 66-run win over India in the third one-day international.
Unable to take the field due to the heat exhaustion and full-body cramps he endured while batting in mid-afternoon on Wednesday (Thursday AEST), Marsh had to shelve plans for his bowling return but was able to enjoy Glenn Maxwell making a sensational return from injury to spin India out for 286 in reply to Australia’s massive 7-352.
The victory at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium snapped Australia’s five-match losing streak and gave their World Cup preparations a much-needed boost while denying India a 3-0 series sweep.
Marsh and Steve Smith (74) batted superbly despite both suffering physically in the extreme conditions.
Marsh, who hasn’t bowled since this year’s Ashes due to ankle soreness, required water to be brought out every over towards the end of his gutsy knock, which ended when he bunted a Kuldeep Yadav wrong ‘un to Prasidh Krishna at cover.
As Marsh walked slowly off the ground, a weary Smith was guzzling drinks while sporting ice packs on his head and the back of his neck, sitting in a plastic chair brought out to the middle.
“It was as tough and as hot as I’ve ever batted in,” Marsh admitted.
“When I came off I was absolutely exhausted and had full body cramps.
“I wanted to bowl. I bowled a couple of practice balls and had cramp all the way up my legs.
“With what’s to come, the staff said to cool my jets for the fielding innings, which I’m very appreciative of.”
David Warner (56) fell in the 50s for the third time in as many hits, before Marnus Labuschagne (72) bolstered his chances of earning a last-minute World Cup call-up.
India’s returning kingpins Rohit Sharma (81) and Virat Kohli (56) looked in imperious touch in the chase before both fell to Maxwell.
Rohit crunched a bullet back to Maxwell, who shut his eyes, stuck out his right hand and remained in a state of disbelief when the catch somehow stuck.
Maxwell, who dismissed makeshift opener Washington Sundar (18) in his first over, continued his dream second spell when the great Kohli top-edged a pull to Smith before ending India’s hopes when he bowled Shreyas Iyer (48).
Back after missing more than six months of international cricket due to a flare-up with his previously-broken leg and the birth of his son, Maxwell looms as one of Australia’s World Cup gamebreakers, for his explosive batting and his underrated spin bowling in subcontinent conditions.
“For ‘Maxy’ to come back after not playing much cricket over the last months, it was great to see him back,” Marsh said.
“We obviously know his batting is absolute class but what he can do with the ball and the option that he’ll give us with our allrounders is vital to us going deep into the World Cup.”