Australia 225 for 5 (Maxwell 104*, Head 35, Wade 28*, Bishnoi 2-32) beat India 222 for 3 (Gaikwad 123*, Suryakumar 39, Tilak 31) by five wickets
Ruturaj Gaikwad slammed an unbeaten 123 to lead India to an imposing 222 in Guwahati, but Glenn Maxwell’s unbeaten 104 stunned the hosts as Australia pulled off a miraculous come-from-behind victory to keep the T20I series alive at 2-1.
Australia had kept pace with the asking rate for most of the innings courtesy a spunky cameo from Travis Head and Maxwell’s aggression. When it came down to Axar Patel’s 19th and Prasidh’s 20th, Maxwell and Matthew Wade feasted in dewy conditions, finding the boundary at will even when Australia needed 43 off 12 balls, 21 off six, and two off the last ball. Maxwell hit the last four balls for 6, 4, 4, 4, drilling Prasidh Krishna down the ground at the finish to silence the home crowd.
Mathew Wade and Glenn Maxwell added 91 off 40 balls to take Australia to victory•BCCI
Maxwell owns the night
Maxwell entered at 66 for 2 in the sixth over, after Avesh Khan had ended Travis Head’s boundary-laden 35 in 18 balls. He took an early liking to Prasidh, smacking two sixes and a four in the eighth over to race away to 25 in 10. But Ravi Bishnoi’s dismissal of Josh Inglis and Axar’s of Marcus Stoinis put a brake on Australia’s run rate.
Still, 88 off 39 in tough bowling conditions was always game on. Maxwell would have known this himself, having conceded 30 in the final over of India’s innings. He started the charge towards the target by thumping Avesh for six and four in the 16th and launching back-to-back sixes off Arshdeep in the 17th.
A tidy 18th from Prasidh put the pressure back on Australia, but an expensive 19th from Axar, culminating in an error from Ishan Kishan behind the stumps brought the equation down to 21 off six balls. Wade and Maxwell got right on top of Prasidh, whose plans went awry with India’s slow over rate necessitating that he bowl with an extra fielder in the 30-yard circle. Prasidh went short, full and wide, and short and wide across the over, and it didn’t seem to matter, particularly to Maxwell.
Ruturaj Gaikwad finished on 123* off 57 balls•Sportzpics
Gaikwad breaks free after Behrendorff’s miserly start
After Australia chose to bowl, Jason Behrendroff impressed on his return to the side with 17 dots in his four-over spell of 1 for 12. But Australia leaked 210 across their other 16 overs, including 64 in four from Aaron Hardie: the joint-most expensive spell in T20Is for Australia.
Gaikwad was on a run-a-ball 22 when Suryakumar Yadav fell for 39 in the 11th over, with India’s score 81 for 3. Australia had an opening to plug the run flow initiated by Suryakumar after Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ishan Kishan had fallen cheaply, but Hardie and Tanveer Sangha allowed Gaikwad to shift gears with some loose bowling. Gaikwad pulled them confidently when they dropped it short, and dispatched the full ones in the arc between long-on and deep extra-cover. This spurt of scoring enabled him to bring up his half-century in 32 balls.
It was in the last three overs that the floodgates really opened, as India added 67 to their total. Gaikwad carted Hardie for three sixes and a four in the 18th over, before Nathan Ellis pulled things back slightly with a 12-run 19th. Wade went with Maxwell’s offspin for the 20th, however, and Gaikwad took full toll of the favourable match-up, clubbing three sixes and two fours in a 30-run over that took India to an imposing 222. Along the way, he brought up his century off 52 balls, and finished on 123 off 57.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx