Maxwell’s unbeaten ton power Australia to win T20 Series

Glenn Maxwell smashed a brilliant unbeaten century as Australia beat India by seven wickets in the second and final T20 international match on Wednesday to clinch the two-match T20 series by 2-0.

Maxwell (113 not out off 55 balls) went on a rampage, smashing as many as nine sixes on way to his third century in the shortest format. He took the game away from India, who should have defended 190 for four after Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni shared a 100-run stand for the fourth wicket to take the hosts to a competitive total.

Prior to the game, Australia had never beaten India in a T20 series, home or away. They had beaten India way back in 2008 at Melbourne but that was a one-off game.

The visitors kept themselves in the chase despite a wobbly start which saw them being reduced to 22 for two in four overs. Opener D’Arcy Short and Maxwell shared a 73-run stand off 43 balls to keep the game on an even knell before the former fell in the 12th over.

India had to defend with only five bowling options which required all-rounder Vijay Shankar to complete his quota of four overs.

Shankar (2/38), who did not bowl in his last three T20s, put up a decent effort, picking up the wickets of Short and Finch. Short could not last long after being dropped on 36 by Rishabh Pant. Australia remained very much in the game with Maxwell plundering the Indian attack in the middle.

It was anyone’s game as Australia needed 60 off the last 30 balls with seven wickets in hand. Maxwell smashed Yuzvendra Chahal for two handsome sixes, including a spectacular reverse hit, to tilt the game in Australia’s favour.

Earlier, Indian skipper Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni played brilliantly and put and entertaining 100-run stand together. Kohli led from the front in a must-win tie, hammering an unbeaten 72 off 38 balls in a knock including half a dozen sixes while Dhoni played the supporting role well with 40 off 23 balls.

It was a typical Dhoni innings that comprised three fours and as many sixes and came after a rather slow 29 off 37 balls in Vizag on February 24. Opener K L Rahul was amongst the runs again, scoring 47 off 26 in front of his home crowd.

India rested the dynamic opener Rohit Sharma and bringing back Shikhar Dhawan to open alongside Rahul. The southpaw was rested from the series opener.

With a series win at stake, Australia opted to field for the second game in row. The home team got a move on in the third over of the innings bowled by left-arm pacer Jason Behrendorff.

Local hero Rahul slashed a short and wide ball between cover and point before Dhawan flicked one off his pads for another four with the over going for 12 runs. The fifth over was even more productive for India as pacer Jhye Richardson conceded 15 runs after Rahul dispatched him for consecutive sixes, a top edge that flew over over deep fine leg and a crisp drive that went all the way over cover.

His sublime strokeplay seemed effortless but it was no mean feat to pull a bowler of Cummins’ pace over backward square leg a ball after he whipped the Australian for a six over deep midwicket. India reached 53 for no loss in six overs. A struggling Dhawan too departed soon after, albeit to a questionable running catch in the deep from Marcus Stoinis after the on-field umpire referred the decision to the third umpire following his soft signal.

Rishabh Pant’s early dismissal made it 74 for three in the 11th over as he mistimed one off chinaman D’Arcy Short and Richardson pulled off a sensational diving catch at long off.

Two quick dismissals brought legends, Kohli and Dhoni in the middle. They enjoy batting together and that came to the fore as they completed a 50-run partnership off 29 balls.

Dhoni, who was criticised for his knock on February 24, showed more intent from the word go as he began with a six over midwicket off Short.

Kohli kept himself busy by rotating the strike early in his innings. He went ballistic in the 16th over that leaked 22 runs as he smashed Coulter-Nile for three sixes in a row before completing his 20th fifty in the shortest format.

Brief Score:

India – 190/4  (Virat Kohli 72* KL Rahul 47, Jason Behrendorff 1/17)
Australia – 194/3 in 19.4 overs (Glenn Maxwell 113*, D’Arcy Short 40, Vijay Shankar 2/38)

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