Maxwell’s 104* Outshines Gaikwad’s 123* as Australia Keeps T20I Series Hopes Alive against India

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Australia chased down 223 against India to make it 2-1 in the 5-match T20 series after Glenn Maxwell hammered an unbeaten 104 off 48 balls in Guwahati on Tuesday.

Glenn Maxwell smashed a 47-ball hundred as Australia won a last-ball thriller against India in Guwahati on Tuesday to keep the visitors alive in the five-match series. It was a typical Maxwell innings which unfolded when it looked like Australia were headed towards another defeat.

Ironically, Glenn Maxwell leaked 30 runs as India closed off their innings brilliantly. Ruturaj Gaikwad went on to score his maiden T20I and their imposing total meant Australia had to pull off something special and it was left to Maxwell to do the impossible. He will return home after this game but he ensured he was signing off in style; Maxwell now has the joint fastest T20I hundred by an Australian and he is now level with Rohit Sharma for most hundreds in T20 Internationals. 

Glenn Maxwell waged a lone battle for Australia after Travis Head laid the platform for a massive chase. India’s bowlers were put under early pressure by Head whose 18-ball 35 meant the Aussies were never out of touch with the sky-high run-rate they needed to achieve to get to the 223-run target.

Arshdeep Singh did well to see off Aaron Hardie before he could do a lot of damage. Avesh Khan then removed the dangerous Head before Glenn Maxwell walked in to a situation tailor-made for him. It did not matter to Australia that they lost Josh Inglis, Marcus Stoinis and Tim David to the guile of India’s spin twin – Ravi Bishnoi and Axar Patel because Maxwell continued to bat the way he usually does.

For those who watched Glenn Maxwell stun Afghanistan with a double hundred conjured out of nowhere, it was deja vu as the Australian marauder sent the ball flying to all corners of the park. Maxwell was unstoppable and he punished any bowler who erred in length ever so slightly. This wasn’t the kind of game where a batter like Matthew Wade would have been happy to merely rotate the strike but with Maxwell at the other end, that’s perhaps the wisest move.

Thanks to Glenn Maxwell’s destructive mood, the equation for Australia was down to 49 off 18 balls. Prasidh Krishna held his nerves and bowled beautifully with the wet ball to give away just six runs in the 18th over. In fact, Prasidh could have had the wicket of Wade but SKY dropped a catch despite a stunning effort. In the 19th over, Wade hit a Free Hit for a six after Ishan Kishan collected the ball from Axar Patel in front of the stumps. Ishan missed another take as the last ball of the penultimate over went for four byes, leaving Australia with 21 to get off 6 balls. 

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Prasidh Krishna had a major challenge to deal with. He wasn’t only up against two of the most dangerous batters in T20 cricket, he also had to deal with only four fielders outside the 30-yard circle because of India’s slow over-rate. Maxwell not just got to his hundred in the last over but he ensured Australia clinched a nail-biting win.

Ruturaj Gaikwad stole the limelight from the rest of India’s power packed batting line-up with a hundred you would remember for so many reasons. For starters, Gaikwad does not use the brute force of Suryakumar Yadav and he loves manipulating the strike, often upsetting the opposition captain’s plans in fast-paced T20 games. Having done it often enough for Chennai Super Kings over the last few years, Gaikwad unleashed his full potential at the international stage and became the first India batter to hit a hundred against Australia in T20 Internationals.

Ruturaj Gaikwad is now second in the list for the highest scores in T20Is by an India batter but that’s not even the highlight of a remarkable innings. While India lost Yashasvi Jaiswal cheaply and Ishan Kishan for a duck, Gaikwad had to remain watchful. The two early setbacks, however, did nothing to change Suryakumar Yadav’s stroke-making abilites and the India captain played like he does in the shortest format and plundered 39 off 29 to set the tone for the hosts on a flat pitch.

SKY’s dismissal in the 11th over was really the beginning of India’s story with the bat Tuesday night. From 81 for 3 in the 11th over, India blazed away to 222 for 3 by the end of the 20th over without Rinku Singh having to come out to bat. Tilak Varma played his part with a sedate, unbeaten 31 but it was all about Ruturaj Gaikwad and the magic wand he claimed was a bat. Gaps were pierced with the precision a seasoned tailor would be proud of. There was no room for error on a terrific batting pitch and Australia’s bowlers made a lot of mistakes which Gaikwad was only too happy to exploit.

It was an innings a lot of batters around the world will now watch and learn from. Ruturaj Gaikwad showed you do not always need to play unorthodox cricket to hammer an unbeaten 123 off 57 balls. In fact, the top-three individual T20I scorers for India play proper text-book cricket shots. Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Virat Kohli are prime examples of how solid technique can help you prosper in the fast lane of T20 cricket.

Ruturaj Gaikwad would be thrilled with this series. Last week, he was dismissed for a diamond duck and then he followed that up with a composed half-century on Sunday. And two days later, Gaikwad showed why he is regarded so highly by everyone who has followed his growth with CSK in the IPL.

India will hope that Ruturaj Gaikwad is able to finish the series in style with just two matches remaining in what has so far been a dominant batting performance by the hosts. For the statistically inclined, India became just the second team after Nepal to score 200 plus total in three successive T20 Internationals.

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