The Vizag Twenty20 International resulted in a low-scoring thriller with India managing to score just 126/7 thanks to KL Rahul’s fifty. In response, Jasprit Bumrah’s 3/16 kept Virat Kohli’s side in the contest but Glenn Maxwell’s brilliant 56 and some calm batting from Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins helped Australia secure a tense three-wicket win off the last ball. The loss was not an ideal start for India as they aim to build momentum for the World Cup. Two people were criticised immensely for the loss in Vizag. Umesh Yadav was targeted for not defending 14 runs in the final over while MS Dhoni was criticised for his extremely slow batting in the first innings when he hit 29 off 37 balls at a strike-rate of 78. However, Maxwell has a different take on Dhoni’s batting.
“It (the slow strike rate) was probably fair enough. With the way the wicket was behaving, it was difficult to score for any batter, let alone a guy who is not known for his power-hitting in Chahal. MS is obviously a world-class finisher and even he was finding it hard to hit the middle of the bat. So, I think it was right of him to try and farm the strike. He hit a six in the last over and I think that showed how difficult it was. If you are holding MS to one boundary in the last few overs, it's a pretty good effort and also a sign of the conditions as well,” Maxwell commented.
Dhoni came to bat when Rishabh Pant was run-out for 3. India lost two wickets in the 13th over with Nathan Coulter-Nile getting rid of the well-set KL Rahul for 50 and Dinesh Karthik for 1. Dhoni struggled to get going and momentum was with Australia. The former Indian skipper shielded Yuzvendra Chahal at the other end and managed to hit a six off Coulter-Nile over extra cover. That was the only six in the last 10 overs as India managed just 46 runs.
In response, Australia were boosted by a solid partnership between D’Arcy Short and Maxwell, with the right-hander tackling the spinners well and hitting a glorious fifty. But, Maxwell admitted that Bumrah and Krunal Pandya were the most difficult to face on this sluggish wicket. “Bumrah and Krunal Pandya were the toughest guys to face on that wicket because they are capable of extracting a low sort of bounce and didn't give you much width to work,” Maxwell said.
India will take on Australia in the final Twenty20 International in Bengaluru on February 27.