Peter Handscomb’s maiden ODI century and his 192-run stand with Usman Khawaja, who missed a chance of scoring his second consecutive century kept Australia in the hunt to chase down 359 against India at the Punab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali on Sunday. Handscomb, whose previous highest was 82 against Pakistan in Perth in 2017, looked confident and he revived the innings with Khawaja after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah took the wickets of Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh early in the chase. Khawaja, who scored his maiden ton in the Ranchi ODI, once again looked in good touch but it was Handscomb who started aggressively by hitting two fours off Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar.
Australia slowly rebuilt the innings but it was Khawaja who broke the shackles by clobbering two fours off Bumrah in the eighth over and a nicely flicked four to deep midwicket off Bhuvneshwar. The partnership grew and both batsmen tackled the spinners incredibly well. Handscomb, who is known to play spin well, tackled Kuldeep and Kedar Jadhav in a positive manner as the scoring rate remained consistent.
Khawaja reached his seventh fifty off 52 balls and Handscomb followed suit a couple of overs later. The partnership went past 100 and Australia were truly in the contest. Both Khawaja and Handscomb increased their scoring rate and the right-hander signaled his intentions by clubbing Yuzvendra Chahal for a big six over deep midwicket. Handscomb neared his century by clobbering Jadhav for two straight sixes down the ground and reached 99 with a carved boundary through point as the offspinner leaked 19 runs in the over.
India struck immediately after the second drinks break when Khawaja top-edged a short ball from Bumrah to be caught at backward square leg by Kuldeep running in from fine leg. After a couple of dot balls, Handscomb reached the landmark by tapping Bhuvneshwar to the off side for a quick single. Glenn Maxwell, who came after the fall of Khawaja, gave Handscomb company as he started off on an aggressive note but he departed for 23 as he was out LBW to Kuldeep while attempting a reverse sweep. A win for Australia keeps them alive in the five-match series while a loss will give India their fourth-straight bilateral ODI series win at home against Australia.