Pat Cummins has proved his worth with the bat to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a Twenty20 thriller against India, where the golden boy of Australian cricket enhanced his reputation yet again.
Cummins – having memorably started his Test career at 18 by hitting the winning runs against South Africa in Johannesburg – showed great composure with the willow to ensure Australia started their tour of India with a dramatic three-wicket final-ball win.
The visitors restricted 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.
A collapse of 4-12 meant the victory equation confronting Cummins and Jhye Richardson was 14 runs off the final over.
Cummins smacked the penultimate delivery of the match, a full toss from Umesh Yadav, for four and then drove the final ball past the bowler and completed a hard-run two.
Glenn Maxwell, whose quick-fire 56 left Australia wanting 38 runs from the final 40 balls, was in awe.
“He can do anything. He does it quite regularly,” Maxwell said of Cummins, who also recorded economical figures of 1-19.
“We got ourselves into trouble and by the last over we probably should have lost, and (would have) if it wasn’t for Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson pulling something out of the hat.
“To have a result like this in our first game on tour is great for our confidence.”
Teammates have given Cummins new nicknames of ‘No.1’ and ‘AB’ after he recently claimed top spot in the International Cricket Council’s Test bowling charts and pocketed the Allan Border medal.
The paceman, who worked tirelessly to develop his batting during the injury-cursed run that followed his Test debut, is in career-best form and oozing confidence.
“I said (at the time) ‘if anyone could go out there and face their first ball in the last over and get us 14 it’s probably Pat Cummins’,” Maxwell said.
Nathan Coulter-Nile was named man of the match after he snagged three wickets in 11 deliveries, including top-scorer KL Rahul for 50.
Captain Aaron Finch recorded a first-ball duck and has failed to reach 50 in his past 18 limited-overs innings for Australia.
Maxwell strode to the crease at 2-5 after 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, storming to a half-century in 40 deliveries, but his dismissal was followed by a woeful mix-up between Handscomb and Short that led to the latter being run out for 37.
Ashton Turner managed a five-ball duck as Jasprit Bumrah conceded just two runs in the second-last over, which ended with the dismissals of Handscomb and Coulter-Nile.
“We knew Pat has the composure to bat well. He played well … he’s a pretty confident cricketer,” Bumrah said.