Glenn Maxwell has inadvertently cost Mitchell Starc an incredible slice of cricket history after a brutal dropped catch in Australia's victory in the second ODI against Zimbabwe.
Starc took 3-24 from eight overs on Wednesday in Townsville as Australia bowled Zimbabwe out for just 96 - the African nation's lowest total ever against the Aussies.
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Despite the brilliant display, Starc might be feeling slightly hard done by after Maxwell shelled a regulation catch at backward point that would have seen Starc claim his fourth scalp.
In a brutal twist, Starc is now stranded on 199 ODI wickets for his career.
Maxwell's chance would have seen Starc become just the fourth Australian ever to reach the 200-wicket milestone in one-day internationals, and the fastest player in history.
Thankfully for Maxwell it probably won't cost Starc the record as the bowler still has two matches up his sleeve.
Wednesday's match in Townsville is the 101st ODI of Starc's career and Pakistan's Saqlain Mushtaq holds the record for fastest to 200 wickets - doing so in 104 matches.
Australia and Zimbabwe will go head-to-head again on Saturday in the third of three ODIs, before the Aussies welcome New Zealand for another three-match series in Cairns.
Starc struck in the third over, clean-bowling opener Innocent Kaia before he claimed two more scalps inside seven overs to leave the visitors 3-25.
Maxwell will never drop a catch and what a time to drop... It would have been Starc's 200 🤕
— . (@Sourabh_49) August 31, 2022
Zimbabwe bowled out for 96. Mitchell Starc stuck on 199 ODI wickets. He still has 2 chances to break the record for fastest to 200 ODI wickets in terms of matches.
Starc has 199 in 101 games. The fastest currently is Saqlain Mushtaq, who reached the milestone in 104 games.
— CricBlog ✍ (@cric_blog) August 31, 2022
Mitchell Starc need 1 more wicket to 200 ODI wickets & Hazlewood need 2 more wickets to 100 ODI wickets.
— Cric Bug (@Unstoppable_49) August 31, 2022
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa also starred with the ball alongside Starc, taking 3-21 off just 3.5 overs.
Cameron Green also took 3-7 off three overs.
At one stage Zimbabwe lost those three wickets for only one run off 20 deliveries, leaving them in all sorts of strife.
It got even worse when dangerman Sikandar Raza fell for 17.
Josh Hazlewood (1-16) had two maidens in his first three overs and bagged Raza's crucial wicket after Marcus Stoinis took a comfortable catch on the boundary.
Raza, along with Zimbabwe's who top order, struggled to get any momentum at the crease as Australia's pacemen bowled at the stumps to leave the run rate hovering around two and a half an over.
The visitors' final five wickets fell for 36 runs with the returning Sean Williams top-scoring with 29.
Mitch Marsh out of ODI series after suffering injury
In the only change since Sunday's opening ODI - a five-wicket win by Australia - Ashton Agar replaced Mitch Marsh in the home side's XI after Marsh returned to Perth to nurse ankle soreness.
Marsh will miss the three ODIs against New Zealand in Cairns to follow this series, but is expected to rejoin the squad ahead of T20s against India next month.
Zimbabwe made one change to their line-up, with fast bowler Victor Nyauchi dropping out and replaced by Williams.
"We've seen through the first two games with the earlier start there's been a fraction more in the wicket," Starc said.
"That being said it's been a bit of extra bounce, been quite slow off the surface and a bit of swing. So bowling first seems to be the option.
"We've got three day-night games coming up against New Zealand pretty quickly , we've still got that mindset of winning this series 3-0."
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