Glenn Maxwell’s masterful knock of 56 and a nerveless final-ball finish from Pat Cummins lifted Australia to a three-wicket win over India in their tour-opening Twenty20 international at Visakhapatnam.
The visitors staged a clinical fightback to restrict India to 7-126 in Vizag, inflicting a collapse of 6-40 that robbed Virat Kohli’s juggernaut of all momentum, but needed all 20 overs to haul in the modest target late Monday morning (Australian time).
Australia required 38 runs from 40 balls when Maxwell departed, having steadied in style.
But a terrible collapse of 4-12 in 3.4 overs meant the victory equation was suddenly an imposing 14 runs off the final over, with Cummins and Jhye Richardson at the crease.
Cummins smacked the penultimate delivery of the drama-packed match, a full toss from Umesh Yadav, for four then stroked the winning runs by completing a hard-run two as Australia finished 7-127.
Aaron Finch will be relieved to bank a victory but far from thrilled with his golden duck, having now logged 18 consecutive limited-overs innings for Australia without reaching 50.
Maxwell strode to the crease at 2-5 following the dismissals of Finch and Marcus Stoinis, who was promoted to open alongside D’Arcy Short in a rejigged side that included Peter Handscomb’s shock selection as wicketkeeper.
Maxwell seized control of the chase in emphatic fashion, taking 12 runs off the fourth over then whacking a couple of sixes as he stormed to a half-century from 40 deliveries.
A woeful mix-up between Handscomb and D’Arcy Short led to the latter being run out for 37 then Ashton Turner was out for a five-ball duck, giving the hosts genuine hope of victory.
Jasprit Bumrah conceded just two runs and fired out Handscomb and Nathan Coulter-Nile with consecutive balls in the penultimate over of the match, setting the stage for a grandstand finish.
India, invited to bat by Finch, looked set to post a far more imposing total after cruising to 1-69 in the ninth over thanks largely to a 55-run stand between Kohli and KL Rahul.
Adam Zampa, the only bowler to dismiss Kohli during the T20 series between the rivals that Australia hosted last November, started the ensuing slump when India’s skipper picked out Coulter-Nile in the deep.
Coulter-Nile hammered home his side’s advantage by snagging three wickets in 11 consecutive deliveries, including top-scorer Rahul for 50, while a beautiful piece of fielding from Jason Behrendorff removed Rishabh Pant for three.
Handscomb fumbled what should have been a regulation dismissal of MS Dhoni on one.
Dhoni finished 29 not out, remarkably turning down singles in the final three overs, but the visitors ensured the former captain was unable to build a partnership of substance.