Australia avoided suffering a Twenty20 series sweep at the hands of India on home soil thanks to a 12-run victory in the third and final match in Sydney. 

Virat Kohli made 85 from 61 deliveries but India still came up short in reply to the home side's total of 186-5, which was aided by a plethora of mistakes by the tourists in the field. 

Opener Matthew Wade helped Australia post such an imposing target, the left-hander making 80 from just 53 deliveries – his highest score in the shortest format at international level. 

Glenn Maxwell contributed an entertaining 54 after twice being given reprieves; he was firstly dismissed off a no ball from Yuzvendra Chahal on 19, then dropped by Deepak Chahar when he had 38 to his name. 

Maxwell made the most of the opportunities to add 90 runs for the third wicket in partnership with Wade, who was eventually trapped lbw by Shardul Thakur in the 19th over. 

India lost KL Rahul to the second ball of their reply before managing a run and while Shikhar Dhawan (28) and captain Kohli put on 74 for the second wicket, the ever-rising run-rate left the visitors with too much to do in the closing stages. 

Having been inexplicably dropped by Steve Smith early on, Kohli's hopes of a first T20 hundred for his country disappeared when he fell to a smart catch in the deep by Daniel Sams off the bowling of Andrew Tye. 

However, it had been Australia's leg-spinners who were the stars with the ball, Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson combining for figures of 4-44 from seven overs. 

Thakur smashed two late sixes but an equation of 27 from the final six balls was always too much to ask from India's tail, their innings finishing on 174-7. 

The two teams will now switch their focus to Test cricket, as the four-match series gets under way with a day-night contest in Adelaide next week. 

Steve Smith smashed Australia's third-fastest ODI century and Aaron Finch also made a sublime hundred as India were consigned to a 66-run defeat in the first match of the series.

Smith struck a sensational 105 from just 66 balls and Finch crafted 114 in Australia's massive total of 374-6 - their biggest against India in the 50-over format.

David Warner (69) also made the tourists suffer, while Glenn Maxwell bludgeoned 45 from only 19 balls in Australia's second-highest ODI total at the SCG.

Mohammed Shami (3-59) was comfortably the pick of the India bowlers on a painful Friday afternoon in the field.

Hardik Pandya struck a superb 90 and Shikhar Dhawan made 74, but India, returning to action for the first time since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, fell short on 308-8 in reply.

Josh Hazlewood (3-55) and Adam Zampa (4-54) did the damage with the ball for Australia as they started their summer in style to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.


FINCH AND WARNER MAKE HISTORY

Finch and Warner combined for the highest opening stand for Australia in an ODI at the SCG, their 156 surpassing the record of 152 set by Geoff Marsh and David Boon in 1986.

Shami finally got the breakthrough in the 28th over, snaring Warner caught behind after Virat Kohli reviewed, but Finch and Smith dished out more punishment, putting on 108 in just 12 overs.

The brilliant Finch struck two sixes and another nine fours in his fourth ODI century against India, a tally only Ricky Ponting has bettered with six, before the skipper became Jasprit Bumrah's only victim.

SENSATIONAL SMITH AND MAXWELL GO BESERK

While Finch uncharacteristically scored at less than a run a ball, Smith raced to a magnificent hundred which he reached off 62 balls.

Smith failed to hit the heights during the recent Indian Premier League but produced a disdainful knock as he dispatched the tourists' attack to all parts - Yuzvendra Chahal (1-89) conceding the most runs by an India spinner in an ODI.

The imperious Smith hit four sixes and 11 fours as he put on a show along with Maxwell, who treated the crowd to some astonishing innovative strokes in an explosive innings.

HAZLEWOOD AND ZAMPA DERAIL INDIA CHASE

India's run chase got off to a blistering start, Mitchell Starc conceding 20 off an 11-ball first over, but they were struggling on 101-4 in the 14th over - Kohli making just 21 after he was dropped by Zampa on one.

Hazlewood had Kohli caught by Finch at midwicket and the quick also saw the back of Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer.

Dhawan - dropped by Maxwell on 41 - and Pandya - playing as a specialist batsman - gave India hope with a fifth-wicket stand of 128, but spinner Zampa removed both in quick succession and got rid of Ravindra Jadeja in an ultimately comfortable win for Australia.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Sunil Narine unfurled a miserly spell of death bowling as they edged out IPL strugglers Kings XI Punjab by just two runs in the Indian Premier League.

In the end, Glenn Maxwell agonisingly missed out on a six that would have forced a Super Over. 

Kings XI had looked to be cruising towards a target of 165 but, just as they did in their previous match with Chennai Super Kings, some excellent death bowling turned the tide in Kolkata’s favour. 

It left Maxwell needing a six off the final ball to prolong a see-saw contest and while he lofted a ball high over cover, it dropped just shy of the rope for four in a remarkable finish. 

The Knight Riders have eight points from their six matches while Kings XI have just one win from seven outings. 

A 29-ball 58 from captain Dinesh Karthik helped Kolkata post a useful target, Shubman Gill (57 off 47) also providing a valuable half-century. 

It appeared as if their efforts would be in vain, as KL Rahul (74) and Mayank Agarwal (56) combined for a first-wicket stand of 115. 

Even when Agarwal eventually fell to Prasidh Krishna (3-29) there appeared little sign of a turnaround, Nicholas Pooran coming to the crease after a sparkling 77 against Sunrisers Hyderabad last time out. 

However, the game turned when Pooran was undone by a slower ball from fellow West Indian Narine, departing for 16 as Kings XI stuttered badly as the pressure mounted.  With 14 required off the final over, KKR opted for Narine and he conceded 11 runs to win the match for his side. 
 

FELL APART TO THE SEAMERS 

The excellent Prasidh utilised an off-cutter to dismiss Prabhsimran Singh (4), then drew an inside edge from Rahul to leave Kings XI needing 14 off the final over. 

When Mandeep Singh holed out from the penultimate delivery, it was left to Maxwell to rescue Kings XI. Despite his best efforts in attacking a wide outside-off delivery, his shot did not have the power to get over the line. 

KNIGHT RIDERS STUTTER 

Kolkata struggled for momentum in the first half of their innings after opting to bat first, slipping to 63-3 in the 11th over when Eoin Morgan departed for 24. 

However, skipper Karthik raised the tempo as he combined with Gill to put on 82 for the fourth wicket. The former was run out from the final ball of the 20th over, having hit eight fours and two sixes.

West Indies star batsman Chris Gayle is predicted to replace Australia Glenn Maxwell in the King XI Punjab line-up for the upcoming match-up against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Saturday.

The 41-year-old big hitter had been expected to come into the line-up on Thursday, for the first time this season, but was forced to watch from the sideline after battling with a bout of food poisoning.  The team plummeted to a 5th loss of the season, from its first six games.

Frustration has grown with Maxwell as the all-rounder has managed just 48 runs in six matches.  It was hoped the player would replicate his heroics from the previous edition but another low score on Thursday has put his place in jeopardy.

"The message was very clear that they were not happy with Maxwell. It’s a clear statement if Chris Gayle walks in, Maxwell walks out," Former India spinner Pragyan Ojha told Sports Today.

 Ojha believes the team’s batting struggles have also impacted KL Rahul who he does not believe is playing like his usual self.  Ojha believes the issue is the burden of supporting what has proven to be a rather fragile middle-order.

. “I think he was just trying to play because he knew that the middle order is not doing well, that pressure and this game you know when you have over 200 runs to chase, any batsman would feel the pressure. And Rahul knows that if he and Mayank don’t do well, they have a fragile middle order. Anil Kumble mentioned Chris Gayle, they wanted him to play but he was not well.”

Glenn Maxwell said he had "freedom" to attack after delivering a stunning century to guide Australia past England in the third ODI.

With Australia chasing 303 for victory in Manchester on Wednesday, Maxwell arrived at the crease with the tourists reeling at 73-5 in the series decider.

But Maxwell (108 off 90 balls) and Alex Carey (106 off 114) combined for a 212-run partnership as Australia reached the target with two balls to spare.

Maxwell, who scored his second ODI century and first since 2015, said he felt free to play his aggressive game with Australia in such a poor position.

"I was probably thinking that we haven't got much to lose so I had a bit of freedom I suppose to try and take the bowling on and put a bit more pressure on them," he told reporters.

"I thought if I could make the most of that short boundary as much as I could early on and just back my bat swing. There was a fair bit of a breeze heading that way as well so I just tried to get it up in the air and I was able to get a couple pretty clean early on in the innings and then hopefully start to build a partnership with Alex.

"I knew once I started to get into the innings they would start to bowl a bit differently to me and I might be able to cash in on some loose balls, but everything pretty much went to plan.

"The way our partnership built was outstanding so it was good fun out there and I'm really happy to get that result."

Jonny Bairstow's 112 had earlier helped England to 302-7 after they elected to bat first at Old Trafford.

England captain Eoin Morgan accepted Australia were simply too good for his side.

"We were still in the game. When you break big partnerships and the ball is offering a bit, you're never out of the game," he said.

"But Australia were too good for us … we were right in the game but Carey and Maxwell played outstandingly well."

Australia took first blood in their ODI series with England as Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Josh Hazlewood shone in a 19-run win at Old Trafford, where Sam Billings' maiden international century was in vain.

Without Steve Smith – who suffered a blow to the head in training on Thursday – Australia still managed to set a target of 295, leaving England facing a record run chase in an ODI at Old Trafford to secure victory.

Marsh (73) and Maxwell (77) were in superb form with the bat, with their century stand taking the tourists from 123-5 to 249-6.

Maxwell eventually succumbed to an excellent ball from Jofra Archer, who had dismissed David Warner (6) with a magnificent delivery early on.

Marsh was pinned lbw by Mark Wood as Australia lost late wickets, though hosts England were then reeling at 57-4 in the 17th over of their reply, with Hazlewood (3-26) in fine fettle.

Jonny Bairstow (84) and Billings (118) took the fight back to Australia, yet England ultimately fell short on 275-9 as the world champions succumbed to a second defeat from the last three 50-over meetings with their great rivals.

Archer's wicked bowling sent Warner's stumps flying in the fourth over, and Wood had Aaron Finch (16) walking soon after when Australia's captain clipped an edge to Jos Buttler.

Wood and Buttler combined again to dismiss Marcus Stoinis for 43 in the 16th over, with Adil Rashid dismissing Marnus Labuschagne (21) lbw soon after.

Alex Carey fared little better against Rashid four overs later, yet Marsh and Maxwell steadied the innings.

While Marsh ticked over, Maxwell wasted little time in getting into his stride, and moved to 50 two balls after hitting Rashid for a huge six over midwicket.

Archer was the recipient of similar treatment for back-to-back sixes in the 44th over, yet he had his revenge the next ball when Maxwell dragged a slower delivery onto his stumps.

Pat Cummins (9) fell in Archer's next over, with Wood sending Marsh back to the pavilion and Chris Woakes dismissing Alex Zampa (5), before Mitchell Starc hit a six from the last ball of the innings as Australia finished on 264-9.

Hazlewood started impressively with the ball, taking a wonderful one-handed catch to dismiss Jason Roy (3) from his own bowling in the fourth over, and the paceman had his second wicket when Joe Root edged to Carey on one.

Two fours and a big six from Eoin Morgan (23) got England back on track, though the home captain soon picked out Maxwell from a Zampa delivery.

Zampa had a second wicket when Labuschagne took a smart catch to dismiss Buttler, and it was then that Bairstow and Billings began to unleash some thumping shots.

Bairstow, after hitting four fours and four sixes, was out in the 36th over – Hazlewood racing around in the outfield to take a fantastic diving catch – with Moeen Ali following quickly.

With Billings still in, England had hope, and despite losing Woakes and Rashid, he played some inventive shots as he moved beyond 100.

However, with 28 needed from the final over, England did not have enough fire-power – Marsh having the final say as he ended Billings' defiance to wrap up an impressive win.

Glenn Maxwell described himself as "shattered" after being told he requires elbow surgery, ruling him out of Australia's tour of South Africa.

The all-rounder will undergo an operation on his left arm on Thursday, with his spot in the ODI and T20 squads taken by D'Arcy Short.

Maxwell had been recalled by his country for the first time since taking a break from cricket in October to concentrate on his mental health, but he now faces up to eight weeks on the sidelines.

After the news was confirmed by Cricket Australia, Maxwell wrote on Twitter: "Shattered to be missing the South Africa tour. I wish all the lads the best of luck over there and I'll be watching from home!

"Thanks for all the wishes of support."

The Wallabies face three T20s and three ODIs against the Proteas, with Maxwell's absence coming after an injury he carried in the closing weeks of the Big Bash League season.

The 31-year-old helped Melbourne Stars to the final of that competition, where they lost to Sydney Sixers.

National selector Trevor Hohns lamented the loss of Maxwell but is confident Western Australia's Short can fill the void.

"We are disappointed to lose Glenn this close to the tour as we were looking forward to welcoming him back to the national side in both the 20- and 50-over formats after his break during the summer," Hohns said.

"Unfortunately, the pain he has experienced in the elbow in the latter stages of the BBL increased over the weekend and he will have surgery immediately to rectify the situation.

"An opportunity has now presented itself for D'Arcy and we're confident he'll make the most of whatever opportunities come his way in South Africa."

Josh Philippe's half-century lifted the Sydney Sixers to their second Big Bash League title with a 19-run win in a rain-affected final against Melbourne Stars, who finished as runners-up for the second successive season.

Heavy rainfall had threatened to wash out the game at the SCG on Saturday, but the conditions eased and there was enough time for a 12-over match in which the Sixers came out on top.

The hosts – champions in the inaugural 2011-12 campaign – were in trouble at 68-4 but Philippe smashed 52 off 29 balls to guide them to 116-5, Adam Zampa finally removing the opener with the final delivery of the innings.

Despite possessing explosive batsmen Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell in their ranks, the Stars did not get firing until Nick Larkin and Nathan Coulter-Nile put on an unbroken 43-run stand for the seventh wicket.

However, spinners Nathan Lyon (2-19) and Steve O'Keefe (2-27) took two wickets apiece, while Josh Hazlewood and Ben Dwarshuis kept the run rate down as the Stars suffered a third final defeat.

 

A STRONG START

James Vince made just two off nine deliveries before picking out mid-on off Daniel Worrall, but Steve Smith (21) ensured the Sixers stayed on track after Maxwell put the Stars in.

Smith and Philippe took the fight to the Stars and the latter claimed four fours and three maximums to score his third fifty in four BBL games.

Although captain Moises Henriques fell for seven and Maxwell removed Daniel Hughes for a golden duck, Philippe established a 48-run stand with Jordan Silk (27 not out) to set what looked to be a par score.

 

HISTORY REPEATING?

When the teams met in the qualifier, the Sixers bowled the Stars out for the lowest score in their history – just 99.

There must have been a sense of deja vu when they slumped to 25-4 after 4.1 overs, with key batsmen Stoinis and Maxwell departing early.

Stoinis was the highest-scoring player in the BBL this year and plundered a record 147 when the teams first met this season, but he made just 10 before holing out to deep midwicket off Lyon and O'Keefe snared Maxwell lbw to leave the Stars in dire straits.

 

STARS BURNT OUT

Smith run out Peter Handscomb – off O'Keefe to leave the Stars 54-6.

Despite the impressive efforts of Larkin, who hit two fours and as many sixes in an unbeaten 38, and Coulter-Nile, the visitors were unable to come back from the early setbacks and fell to a resounding defeat.

Marcus Stoinis has been overlooked for Australia's limited-overs series in South Africa, while Glenn Maxwell was named in both the ODI and Twenty20 squads.

Stoinis was crowned the Big Bash League player of the tournament, but missed out on selection despite his 612 runs at an average of 55.63 for the Melbourne Stars during the 2019-20 campaign.

The 30-year-old will be on standby for both the ODI and T20 squads, who will each play three matches against South Africa in February and March.

"Marcus Stoinis is a standby player for each squad and was unlucky to miss out due to the makeup of the current top order," Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement on Tuesday.

"It is terrific to have a backup player of his calibre in such good form.

"Of course there are other unlucky omissions which is always the case when selecting these squads."

Maxwell returns after his exclusion from the ODI squad for last month's matches against India, who won the series 2-1.

Mitchell Marsh, Jhye Richardson and Sean Abbott have also returned, the latter duo only part of the T20 squad.

"These are two very well-balanced squads with a focus on the specific skills each individual offers in their respective roles. The squads include returning players Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, Jhye Richardson and Sean Abbott," Hohns said.

"It is fantastic to have Glenn back in both squads given his brilliant form in the middle order for the Stars along with his results with the ball. Glenn was one of the first picked in the most recent T20 team at the start of the summer, prior to his break from the game.

"The same can be said for Mitch. He has been in tremendous touch with the bat for the Scorchers since his return from injury and is now back bowling well. His performances warranted inclusion in the area he operates as a powerful middle-order batsman and handy bowler.

"Jhye Richardson also returns to the T20 side from injury with his performances demanding inclusion. He is a terrific young player who has been sensational in all forms of the game; and is an extremely strong fieldsman.

"Matthew Wade is also in red hot form with the bat. He is a very strong fielder; and a great person to have in any team. He can also substitute as wicketkeeper if required."

The T20 series begins in Johannesburg on February 21 before the ODIs start eight days later.

Australia T20 squad: Aaron Finch, Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
Australia ODI squad: Aaron Finch, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

Glenn Maxwell's masterclass guided the Melbourne Stars to a seven-wicket victory over the winless Melbourne Renegades in Friday's Big Bash League derby.

The gifted all-rounder, nicknamed the 'Big Show', made an unbeaten 83 off only 45 balls at Marvel Stadium as the table-topping Stars chased down a target of 169 with eight balls to spare.

Such an outcome looked unlikely when the Stars needed 60 off the final five overs, with defending champions the Renegades scenting an opportunity to break their duck at the eighth attempt.

But Maxwell smashed his second consecutive half-century to put his side two points clear of the Sydney Sixers and give another nudge to the Australia selectors after being omitted for the ODI series in India.

Shaun Marsh earlier made a 43-ball 63 but the beleaguered Renegades lost four wickets for just 22 runs in their final four overs and a total of 168-7 was not enough.


RAUF AND COULTER-NILE STOP GADES IN THEIR TRACKS

Marsh needed a new bat after a ferocious delivery from Lance Morris snapped his blade in two, but he flanked the Gades' innings in a knock that included seven fours and two sixes.

The Gades were well placed at 146-3 through 16 overs, only to have their momentum stemmed.

Nathan Coulter-Nile (2-29) ensured Tom Cooper (15) could not build on a start and sent Sam Harper back for a golden duck, while Haris Rauf conceded just eight runs from his final two overs and accounted for Dan Christian (12).


MARVELLOUS MAXWELL SHINES FOR STARS

The Renegades made a poor start when Marcus Stoinis – the BBL's top run-scorer this season – holed out to long-off off Samit Patel for a three-ball duck.

Hilton Cartwright (35) was stopped in his tracks by Cameron Boyce and the Stars were facing a tall order to get over the finishing line.

But Maxwell kept his cool before finishing with a flourish, hitting a couple of huge sixes off Joe Mennie and Boyce before giving Richard Gleeson the treatment from consecutive deliveries in the 18th over.

A 91-metre six off Christian preceded another whack beyond the ropes over deep square leg to seal victory in style, having cleared the rope seven times in a swashbuckling innings.

Haris Rauf took a hat-trick and Glenn Maxwell became Melbourne Stars' record run-scorer as Sydney Thunder were beaten by six wickets at the MCG.

The in-form Stars moved top of the Big Bash League table, level on points with Sydney Sixers with a better net run rate and a game in hand, by securing a fourth consecutive victory on Wednesday.

Pakistani paceman Rauf claimed the second Big Bash hat-trick of the day after Rashid Khan took three in three during the Adelaide Strikers' defeat to Sydney Sixers.

The Thunder were restricted to 145-5 after a brilliant final over from Rauf (3-23), Matthew Gilkes top scoring with 41 from 35 balls.

Marcus Stoinis (50) struck a third consecutive half-century, while Maxwell made an unbeaten 59 from just 37 balls to replace Luke Wright as the Stars' leading run-scorer to get his side home with more than two overs to spare.

Defeat for the Thunder was their second in a row and dropped them down a place to fourth on a day in which spinner Chris Green was banned from bowling for three months due to an illegal delivery action.

 

RAPID RAUF ROCKS THUNDER

Rauf has been a revelation for the Stars since being plucked from grade cricket in Hobart as cover for Dale Steyn.

The quick could be returning to Australia for the T20 World Cup later this year after he took his tally of wickets to 13 in four matches in dramatic fashion.

Rauf saw the back of Gilkes, who struck two sixes, with the second ball of the last over and Callum Ferguson played on to the next delivery before Daniel Sams was trapped lbw on the hat-trick ball. 

 

SENSATIONAL STOINIS CONTINUES PURPLE PATCH

Stoinis maintained his outstanding form to move over the 300-run mark for the tournament.

The leading run-scorer in the 2019-20 competition had a touch of fortune when he was given not out after being rapped on the pad by Chris Tremain in the third over.

Stoinis took advantage by anchoring the run chase, hitting a six and another four boundaries before holing out off Jonathan Cook, leaving the Stars 103-4 in the 14th. 

 

MAGNIFICENT MAXWELL EASES STARS HOME

Captain Maxwell took only 29 balls to score his first half-century of the tournament.

The all-rounder, who also conceded just 18 runs from three overs, found the rope eight times and launched Tremain for six to keep the Stars on course for victory.

Maxwell was on the deck after trying to clatter Morris and making no contact, but he hit the South Africa bowler for a glorious boundary to finish off the job in the same over.

Big Bash League stars Glenn Maxwell and Chris Lynn will donate to the bushfire appeal in Australia for every six they hit this season.

Bushfires are raging across Australia, with New South Wales and Victoria greatly affected.

The nation's sportspeople are rallying to help those impacted, with Brisbane Heat star Lynn and the Melbourne Stars' Maxwell offering their help.

"Hey guys, for every six I hit in this year's Big Bash League I will donate $250 towards the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal," Lynn wrote on Twitter on Friday.

"It is special to see so many athletes from various sports getting in behind the real heroes who are fighting to save lives and properties around our country."

Maxwell wrote: "Love it Lynny!! I'll match you on $250 per six I hit in this year's BBL.

"Great cause which is helping so many people around the country who are doing it tough right now."

Maxwell and Lynn are two of the BBL's biggest hitters and have tallied nine and 12 sixes respectively so far this season.

It comes as tennis star Nick Kyrgios vowed to donate 200 Australian dollars for every ace he hits during the summer Down Under.

Illawarra Hawks star LaMelo Ball, meanwhile, pledged to donate a month of his NBL salary to help victims.

Peter Siddle's impressive death bowling held off Melbourne Stars as Adelaide Strikers handed them their first loss of the Big Bash League season with a five-run victory.

Australia international Siddle returned figures of 3-24 from his four overs, claiming the key wickets of Glenn Maxwell and Ben Dunk to ensure the Strikers defended their total of 174-4.

Jonathan Wells wrested control away from the Stars and ended with an unbeaten 68 off 46 deliveries – an 89-run partnership with Alex Carey anchoring the Strikers' innings.

Melbourne lost Nic Maddinson and Hilton Cartwright early on and were 66-3 when Maxwell went out to the middle for the final ball of the 10th over.

All-rounder Maxwell racked up four maximums in a blistering 43-run knock but chopped onto his middle stump when attempting a reverse scoop off Siddle.

Nathan Coulter-Nile (20 not out) kept the Stars in contention and with the visitors requiring six runs from the final two deliveries, Siddle picked out Dunk's leg stump with a sweet yorker and denied Adam Zampa a match-winning moment on the final ball to clinch a dramatic victory as Melbourne finished with 169-6.

 

STEYN GETS A TOUGH WELCOME

After starting his BBL career with a dot ball, Dale Steyn was launched for back-to-back sixes by Jake Weatherald.

The Strikers opener was not finished there either, finding the ropes twice more in succession – the second drilled to the boundary past a diving mid off.

However, Steyn got his revenge when Weatherald ballooned him to mid on to become the first wicket to fall.

WELLS' ACCELARATION KEY

The Stars appeared to have everything under control until Wells claimed the Strikers' first boundary in 34 deliveries, though there was more than a slice of luck about it as Cartwright spilled an absolute dolly off Zampa on the ropes.

That over proved to be the foundation of a surge that saw Wells claim 51 off the last 26 balls he faced, sealing a second fifty of this BBL.

He finished with a stunning 13-ball partnership worth 32 alongside Rashid Khan, a prolific spell that ended up proving key to the victory.

 

MAXWELL COMES UNDONE

After Khan had Peter Handscomb (34) stumped off a googly, Maxwell decided it was time to cut loose. He launched the next ball to Wells at wide long on and had a six when the ball slipped through the Strikers fielder's grasp.

Maxwell bludgeoned Cameron Valente into the top tier and dispatched Ashton Agar for a pair of maximums in the 16th over to bring victory into the Stars' sights.

However, his flamboyance proved his undoing and Siddle held his nerve in a tense finale to ensure the Strikers made it back-to-back victories.

Glenn Maxwell struck a spectacular 83 from 39 deliveries on his return to competitive cricket as Melbourne Stars got their Big Bash League campaign off to a winning start with a 22-run victory over Brisbane Heat.

Australia batsman Maxwell, who in October decided to take a break from cricket for mental health reasons, was in inspired form as he lifted his side to a total of 167-7 in Carrara.

England youngster Tom Banton threatened to lead the Heat to their target, but Brisbane lost their way after the opener was dismissed by Adam Zampa (3-30) for a 36-ball 64.

Although Matt Renshaw reached 39, Brisbane were limited to 145-8, with Zampa, Daniel Worrall (2-21) and debutant Haris Rauf (2-20) doing the bulk of the damage.

The Heat have now lost their opening two games while the Stars will look to build on a win that owed much to Maxwell's stunning return.

MILLION-DOLLAR MAXWELL RETURNS IN STYLE

Maxwell had not played since scoring 62 for Australia in a Twenty20 against Sri Lanka in Adelaide in October, but the all-rounder looked like he had never been away.

A day on from the Indian Premier League auction, he showed just why Kings XI Punjab elected to pay $1.5million for his services.

After reaching 50 from just 23 balls, Maxwell continued to toy with Brisbane's attack, sending Josh Lalor for two sixes in an over and taking his boundary tally to 12 before he was bowled by Ben Laughlin in the final over of the Stars innings.

"[It's a] nice way to start a tournament. The boys bowled beautifully 'til the end when Tom Banton was batting well and they pulled things back," Maxwell told reporters.

"We've got some strength in our bowling, guys like Sandeep [Lamichhane], and Haris Rauf was outstanding. I feel we've really covered all bases this year. I've been feeling good all summer and just the mental side of the game I need to get right."

RAUF HITS THE MARK ON HIS DEBUT

Seamer Rauf was handed his first start in the BBL, and the 26-year-old took his opportunity to impress.

After an expensive second over from Lamichhane, Rauf was drafted into Melbourne's attack early, and made the ideal start by dismissing Max Bryant with his first delivery.

Banton had the better of Rauf, but after a spell out of the attack, he kept things tight late in the innings following the excellent work of Zampa and rounded off the win by taking Mitchell Swepson's wicket in the final over.

Kolkata Knight Riders splashed out a record INR 15.5 crore for Australia star Pat Cummins in the IPL auction on Thursday.

Cummins had been the subject of bids from both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals before Knight Riders gazumped their rivals.

The deal, worth roughly $2.2million, makes Cummins the most expensive overseas buy in IPL history.

The top-ranked Test bowler previously played in Kolkata in 2014 and 2015, along with Delhi Capitals in 2017. He missed the 2018 tournament with Mumbai Indians through injury.

Cummins has 17 wickets, at a rate of 29.35, in his 16 career IPL matches to date.

He is joined at Knight Riders by England limited-overs captain Eoin Morgan, whose reward for 2019 Cricket World Cup success is a much-improved deal.

Morgan, who is set to lead England again at the 2020 T20 World Cup, fetched INR 5.25 crore - more than double his wage for Kings XI Punjab in his most recent appearance in 2017.

Meanwhile, Cummins was not the only quick to welcome a big contract on Thursday, as debutant Sheldon Cottrell went to Kings XI for INR 8.5 crore.

And Indians signed Nathan Coulter-Nile for INR 8 crore.

Rajasthan Royals brought Jaydev Unadkat back for a third straight year, this time for a more modest INR 3 crore having spent top fees on the 28-year-old at the past two tournaments.

Glenn Maxwell went to Kings XI for INR 10.75 crore, while Royal Challengers sent INR 10 crore to Chris Morris.

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