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Cricket news - Maxwell's heroics help Australia sweep series

MAxwell hit his third T20I hundred to help Australia sweep series.

Not many expected Australia to mount a challenge against an Indian side that was almost at full strength in their own backyard, especially after getting humbled at home very recently. But up stepped Glenn Maxwell at a crucial juncture proving to be the difference between the two sides. Having already played a mature hand in the opening T20I, scoring a fifty, Maxwell lit up the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday (February 27) with a blistering century that saw Australia sweep the T20I series 2-0. Even though the series really doesn't carry great significance in the bigger picture, it still will be remembered as Virat Kohli's first series loss at home as captain across formats.

A total of 191 appeared to be a daunting one for the Australians after they huffed and puffed to chase down a total that was almost 60 runs lesser in the first game in Vizag. D'Arcy Short fell in the 12th over, all hopes were pinned on Maxwell to carry Australia home. And it appeared like a herculean task considering the kind of personnel that were left to come. While India had Krunal Pandya slated to come in at No. 8, Australia had Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pat Cummins slotted in at seven and eight.

But Maxwell took on the challenge, absorbed the pressure and found an able partner in the form of Peter Handscomb at the other end to get the job done. The visitors didn't have the greatest of starts to the run chase when Marcus Stoinis played an ugly swipe to lose his off-stump to Siddarth Kaul. In the very next over, it was the turn of Aaron Finch to attempt a similar shot, only to get a top edge. At the end of the powerplay, Australia had tentatively posted 42 on the board.

But over the next five overs, things changed with the visitors picking on Vijay Shankar and Pandya. Both Short and Maxwell's calculated approach fetched Australia 53 off the next five overs that put them back on track to chase the total down. But Vijay, picked as the fifth bowler on the night, came back into the attack to strike again. A leg-cutter was miscued by Short and his wicket gave India an opportunity to sneak through. The dismissal didn't deter the maverick batsman who still punished two more slower deliveries in the same over to pick up 13 off it.

The equation boiled down to 60 from the final five with just Maxwell remaining the key for the hosts. After sweeping Yuzvendra Chahal over backward square leg for a six, he reverse-swept the legspinner off the very next ball to add to his tally. Handscomb, to his credit, kept giving the strike back to Maxwell and played his role to perfection by ensuring his side didn't suffer a collapse like the one they suffered in the first game.

Even Jasprit Bumrah wasn't spared on the night as Maxwell played two delightful strokes to fetch boundaries that dented India's confidence severely. A stunned crowd then watched the 30-year-old hammer two more sixes in the next over that appeared to kill the chase. He played out Bumrah's final over, bringing up his hundred in the process, and then completed formalities in the following over to hand his side the series.

Earlier in the day, Kohli gave the crowd plenty to cheer with an entertaining knock that appeared to put India on course for a series-levelling win. During the course of the powerplay, one wouldn't have anticipated India putting up 190 on the board. Shikhar Dhawan struggled at one end and KL Rahul was itching to cut loose. India made only 24 in the first four overs before Rahul finally exploded hitting back-to-back sixes in the fifth. He replicated it in the next over as well against Pat Cummins with the first one handsomely struck over deep midwicket. The score surged to 53 at the end of the powerplay following those four sixes and India appeared to be on track finally.

Coulter-Nile then gave Australia the much-needed breakthrough when Rahul tried to play the upper cut against an offcutter. With no real force on the shot, Rahul relied on deft touch to carry the ball past the boundary ropes but the third man had an easy grab instead. Two overs later, Dhawan's misery came to an end when he found the fielder at cover after mistiming Jason Behrendorff for a 24-ball 14. At this stage, the scoring rate had also dropped as India made only 73 at the halfway mark.

The hosts were handed another blow when Short accounted for Rishabh Pant. The left-arm wristspinner first tied down Pant with a few dot balls before the dasher mistimed one to long off where Jhye Richardson took a superb diving catch. MS Dhoni, who usually bides his time in crisis situations, batted with freedom from the start with India batting deep. The onslaught began from the 15th over and that eventually helped India fetch 91 runs in the final six.

Dhoni took a liking to Short's bowling as he hammered him for 24 runs off just nine balls in total, which included three hits over the fence. At the other end, Kohli was at his best with the highlight being three consecutive sixes off Coulter-Nile. While one was hit over long off, the other two were beautifully hit over deep midwicket. Adam Zampa appeared to pull things back in the 17th over conceding just three runs but Kohli took on the seamers in the final two overs to guide India to 190 - a total that didn't prove enough for one man.

Brief score: India 190/4 in 20 overs (Virat Kohli 72, MS Dhoni 40; Jason Behrendorff 1-17) lost to Australia 194/3 in 19.4 overs (Glenn Maxwell 113*, D'Arcy Short 40; Vijay Shankar 2-38) by seven wickets.

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