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Maxwell magic sends Suryakumar’s Team India packing in 3rd T20I | Cricket

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Maxwell magic sends Suryakumar’s Team India packing in 3rd T20I | Cricket


For the third time in five weeks, Glenn Maxwell produced a knock for the ages on Indian soil to take his team to victory. After a 40-ball century against Netherlands and that unforgettable double-century against Afghanistan during the ODI World Cup, the Big Show hit an unbeaten 104 off 48 balls to help Australia beat India by five wickets in the third T20 International in Guwahati on Tuesday.

Australia's captain Matthew Wade (L) and teammate Glenn Maxwell come out of the ground after winning the third Twenty20 international cricket match (AFP)
Australia’s captain Matthew Wade (L) and teammate Glenn Maxwell come out of the ground after winning the third Twenty20 international cricket match (AFP)

Chasing a daunting total of 223 after Ruturaj Gaikwad scored his first century in international cricket, Australia got over the line off the last ball of the contest as Maxwell equalled Rohit Sharma’s record for the most centuries (four) in men’s T20 Internationals. The result kept Australia, who had lost the first two games, alive in the five-match series.

Australia relied on Travis Head and Maxwell – their heroes in the recent ODI World Cup triumph – to remain in the chase. Head, who was rested for the first two T20Is, was brutal at the top of the order once again and hit eight fours in his 18-ball 35. India pulled things back as Aaron Hardie, Head and Josh Inglis were dismissed off consecutive overs by Arshdeep Singh, Avesh and Ravi Bishnoi. But the visitors fought back as Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis added a 60-run partnership for the fourth wicket in quick time.

India had another little burst as Stoinis was sent packing by Axar Patel to end the 13th over before Tim David was dismissed by Bishnoi for a first-ball duck. But Maxwell kept going hard, hitting eight fours and as many sixes in his innings, and got the support he needed from skipper Matthew Wade in the end.

Australia needed 43 runs to win off the last two overs and it seemed India would manage to close out a series-clinching win, but Maxwell and Wade never stopped believing and took Axar and Prasidh Krishna for 22 and 23 runs respectively in the last two overs.

In terms of India’s bowling, leg-spinner Bishnoi stood out once again with figures of 2/32 but it was a forgettable day, to put it mildly, for Prasidh. The right-arm pacer was hammered for 39 runs in his first two overs but did well to concede just six in the 18th over. But tasked with bowling the final over of the match, was all over the place again and couldn’t defend 21 runs.

Prasidh has figures of 1/50, 3/41 and 0/68 in the first three games and it’ll surely be a surprise if he’s given another go in this series.

Earlier, India went in with just one change as Avesh Khan came in for Mukesh Kumar, who was released from the squad for his wedding and will return for the fourth game in Ranchi.

Australia, meanwhile, had announced a number of changes to their squad. Steve Smith and Adam Zampa would skip the remaining three games, while Maxwell, Josh Inglis, Marcus Stoinis and Sean Abbott were to head home after the third T20I.

Jason Behrendorff, who had bowled a good spell of 1/25 in the series opener before being left out of the second game, returned to the lineup and delivered a splendid performance with the ball for Australia. The left-arm pacer dismissed Jaiswal with his second delivery and went on to bowl three overs, which included 15 dot balls, in the powerplay. His overall figures of 1/12 were by far the most economical among all bowlers on the night.

However, India managed to score 210 runs off the remaining 16 overs as Australia leaked 23 runs in extras.

Gaikwad, who got out for a diamond duck in the first game and scored a half-century in the second, was at his absolute best in an unbeaten 123 off 57 balls this time around. The right-hander paced his knock masterfully, relying more on classical strokeplay as he usually does, to hit 13 fours and seven sixes and complete his ton off just 52 balls.

On what was another batting-friendly pitch, India found themselves in a spot of bother early on as hard-hitting left-handers Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ishan Kishan were back in the hut inside the first three overs. Skipper Suryakumar Yadav, however, led the fightback with some audacious shot-making. He scored just one run off the first nine deliveries he faced before cutting loose and hitting 38 off the next 19.

Once Surya was dismissed in the 11th over, though, Gaikwad took over and showcased the incredible versatility he possesses as a batter. The 26-year-old was content in rotating strike initially and got to a run-a-ball 22 through the early stutter and Surya’s fightback. In the second half of the innings, he switched gears in stunning fashion and added an unbeaten 141-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Tilak Varma (31* off 24 balls).

Gaikwad was devastating against both pace and spin, both on the off and on side, and never looked like he was trying too hard. Varma did well to not let the tempo drop at the other end but it was Gaikwad’s knock that put the game beyond the Aussies. He plundered 101 runs off the last 35 balls he faced as Maxwell conceded 30 runs in the last over of the innings.

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