MS Dhoni once again drew flak for his slow strike-rate against Australia in the first T20 International but Glenn Maxwell feels that on a low and slow track, that was all the former India captain could have done.
Dhoni managed 29 off 37 balls in India's below-par 126 for 7 on a track where the ball was not coming onto the bat. To be fair to Dhoni, a clutch of wickets fell and he also had to stem the rot with Yuzvendra Chahal at the other end.
"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," Maxwell said in Dhoni's defence as his analogy of Chahal's pyrotechnics invited a few chuckles.
It was such a track where deliveries were keeping low and Dhoni could manage only one six.
"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," Maxwell said.
He lauded his bowlers for keeping Dhoni under tight leash.
"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."
They had targeted leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and debutant Mayank Markande and Maxwell said Bumrah and Krunal Pandya werre toughest to face in such conditions.
"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," he said.
He also hailed man of the match Nathan Coulter-Nile who returned with 3/26 and also took two catches including that of skipper Virat Kohli (24).
"He (Coulter-Nile) was brilliant. It was probably a wicket that suited him, it was keeping low and he was bowling straight making it really hard to create angles," Maxwell said.
Will be in WC squad if I can make opportunities count like this one
Glenn Maxwell is still not sure if he would be in Australia's World Cup bound squad but a few more innings like the half-century in a winning cause against India in the first T20 international will certainly bolster his case.
Maxwell scored 56 off 43 balls in Australia's three-wicket win off the last ball but is far from being guaranteed a place in the 15-member squad.
"I have no idea if I am going to be in that World Cup squad or what number I'm going to bat, so I suppose it just comes down to opportunity -- if I can keep making most of opportunities like tonight," Maxwell said at the post-match press conference.
However he agreed that he would have to not just contribute but also close in a few more matches.
"If I can turn those sort of innings into not-out, 75-ish, and be consistent that way, I think I can probably go a long way in pencilling my name for the World Cup and hopefully continue that job for the rest of this year," Maxwell said.
The touring Australian teams over the years have struggled when it came to tight finishes and that's precisely the reason why the last-ball victory in the first T20 International will help them build momentum, feels Glenn Maxwell.
Maxwell was a key contributor in Australia's last-ball win with a 43-ball-56 but it was the pace bowling pair of Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins, who won the match for Australia taking 14 off Umesh Yadav's final over.
"A lot of times when you come over here and you get into these close games and you lose them so often. The home crowd can get behind the team and you can lose. It can just put your momentum back," Maxwell said at the post-match news conference.
"Probably, we got ourselves into trouble by the last over. Probably, we should have lost if it wasn't for Cummins and Richardson. It was outstanding. It can just bring the whole group together," Maxwell said.
The win will be a great confidence booster for the unit ahead of the World Cup as they try to build the momentum.
"To have a result like this on our first game on tour is great for our confidence and something that we can hopefully ride and build the momentum. Hopefully, we can start off our World Cup preparation on a good note."
From being 89 for 2 inside 14 overs, Maxwell's dismissal triggered a collapse and India pacer Jasprit Bumrah almost made it out of their reach in a sizzling penultimate over.
Bumrah removed Peter Handscomb and then yorked Nathan Coulter-Nile in the next ball, in an over he conceded just two runs.
"I did mention to Finchy (skipper Aaron Finch) that if anyone can, it would Pat Cummins. For him to keep a cool head, hit a gap on the off-side against a guy (Umesh Yadav) who hit three of the six yorkers, it was just good batting," he said showering praise on Cummins.
Maxwell rued that he could have finished the game and said he still have a lot of work to do to secure a ticket to the World Cup-bound squad, the deadline for which is two months' away.
"It would have been nice to finish it off, but I chose that Chahal (over) as my time to go tonight and I still back that as the right decision.