Bengaluru, Feb28: The blistering ton from Glenn Maxwell helped Australia to win the second and last T20 Match against India and also the series by 2-0.
Chasing a target slightly above-par on a tricky pitch, Maxwell struck seven fours and nine sixes to top-score for Australia in back-to-back games. His unbeaten 55-ball 113 helped Australia cruise to victory with seven wickets in hand.
That Maxwell had the liberty to play his shots was also down to the company that D'Arcy Short (40) gave him. Australia looked in trouble early on, having lost Marcus Stoinis and Aaron Finch cheaply once again, but the duo's 73-run third-wicket stand brought Australia back.
While Short found the boundary six times, it was Maxwell who brought out the fireworks. The proceedings started in the fifth over, when he top-edged a six off Jasprit Bumrah and did not spare any of India's other bowlers either.
Consecutive sixes off Chahal in the 16th overtook the wind out of India's bowling attack, and when he drilled Bumrah for two fours in the 17th, victory looked imminent.
With two overs to go and only 14 runs to win, Maxwell jammed a yorker down to the leg side to bring up his third T20I hundred. And with that milestone ticked off, he clubbed Siddarth Kaul for a six over long-off and then a flat-batted boundary to extra cover to bring up Australia's victory.
Earlier in the day, KL Rahul's blazing 40 had set the ball rolling for India after Shikhar Dhawan failed to find his timing. At 16 for no loss after three quiet overs, Rahul took on Jhye Richardson to collect consecutive sixes in a 15-run fifth over. If Rahul's first six wasn't quite convincing - a top-edged maximum - he oozed quality the next ball, nonchalantly lifting a wide ball over the extra-cover boundary.
Rahul followed it up with back-to-back sixes off Pat Cummins, first a whip over midwicket followed by a pull behind square, to lift India to 53 for no loss after six. But he perished trying a ramp shot.
That brought in Virat Kohli, but Rahul's dismissal earned Australia two tidy overs. Dhawan, who was looking out of sorts with just one boundary in his knock, then tried to play an inside-out drive over cover, only to find Stoinis running in from the ropes. His 24-ball 14 was the primary reason why India were only at 73 for two after ten overs. When Rishabh Pant fell cheaply once again, trying to clear long-off, India's projected score stood at 134.
But in came MS Dhoni, criticized in some corners for his 37-ball 29 in the first T20I. He struck his sixth ball, off wrist spinner Short, over midwicket before shellacking a boundary apiece over the next two overs. Balls that were short and wide were slapped over the infield, while anything on his toes was deposited to cow corner.
With Dhoni finding his range, Kohli soon joined in. He began India's late charge with a short-arm jab over Richardson in the 15th over, before creaming a hat-trick of sixes in the 16th. Nathan Coulter-Nile - Kohli's team-mate at Royal Challengers Bangalore - found his first slower ball whipped to deep midwicket. Kohli then picked a wide ball outside off to club a six over extra cover. And the icing was the third six, which Kohli - in Dhoni style - muscled over long-on after skipping down the track.
With three overs to go, India were still only at 138 for three. But Australia captain Finch's decision to bowl Short for a third over tempted Dhoni to look for boundaries. He struck three, including two sixes, to extract 19 off the over, to move to 39.
Cummins broke the 49-ball century stand in the 20th over, but conceded 15 runs off his final four deliveries to finish his spell with an economy of over 13. Dinesh Karthik struck two boundaries, and Kohli finished the innings with a six, to take India to a respectable 190. In their last six overs, India added 91 runs.
In all, India's right-handers struck 175 runs in 15 overs. Their left-handers, Dhawan and Pant, made just 15 in five, and it's that discrepancy that may have cost India a series-leveling win on the evening.
Australia 194 for 3 (Maxwell 113*, Short 40, Shankar 2-38) beat India 190 for 4 (Kohli 72*, Rahul 47, Dhoni 40) by seven wickets