Hardik Pandya’s Instagram post, on the eve of this ODI, shows him standing in front of a camera for a promo shoot. It's captioned “Lights. Camera. And the action starts tomorrow!”
At the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, where the crowd cheered aloud for its ‘Super King’ and ‘ thala’ , Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Pandya stole the show, first with a classy knock of 83 in just 66 deliveries, and later by picking up two crucial wickets. That not only put him in the limelight, but also helped India thump Australia by 26 runs in a rain-truncated first ODI.
Pandya, along with Dhoni (79 off 88 balls) added 118 runs for the sixth wicket to help India reach a competitive total of 281-7.
PANDYA WAGON WHEEL
But things changed soon after the Indian innings got over. With slight drizzles nagging for a while, the game was stopped for 122 minutes. As per the Duckworth-Lewis method, the visiting side had to pull off 164 in 21 overs.
Smith: Got to be a bit better with our plans
Australia, however, failed to get into the T20 mould, and could only manage 137-9.
Chasing a rather tricky target, it was important for the top-order to fire, but with Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah tightening the noose from the very beginning, the Aussies lost wickets in quick succession. Wrist-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, too, chipped in with three wickets, while Kuldeep Yadav bagged a couple.
Debutant Hilton Cartwright was cleaned up by Bumrah for one. Captain Steven Smith (1), six deliveries later, was dismissed by Pandya.
That, perhaps, was the beginning of the end.
While David Warner fell for 25, thanks to mystery spinner Kuldeep Yadav, Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis failed to show steel. Glenn Maxwell played a perfect T20-style knock — 39 in 18 balls — before getting out to Chahal.
Even after Maxwell's exit, James Faulkner (32 not out) tried doing the star turn, but the effort wasn't enough.
It was not really a smooth beginning for India. Opting to bat first after winning the toss, it was in deep trouble after losing three wickets for just 11 runs, courtesy a fiery spell by Nathan Coulter-Nile.
While Ajinkya Rahane, who was promoted to the top of the order in Shikhar Dhawan’s absence, fell meekly for five, captain Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey failed to open their accounts. Rohit Sharma (28) and Kedar Jadhav (40) tried steadying the ship, before falling to Marcus Stoinis.
Struggling at 87-5 in 21.3 overs, it looked as if India would find it impossible to reach a competitive total. But then, with Dhoni and Pandya stepping up, things got better.
Coming lower down the order, Pandya anchored the Indian ship, along with Dhoni — who scored his 100th international half-century. Pandya went hammer and tongs at Adam Zampa, picking up 24 runs in the 36 over, pushing Dhoni to go on the defensive. That the erstwhile India skipper played in his unusual mode is evident by the fact that his first boundary came in the 67th ball. ( READ: The secret of MSD's fitness )
But then, he kept his cool to pick up 79 runs off 88 balls, and guide the team to a fighting total. Pandya, on the other hand, reigned supreme, picking up his third ODI half-century.
Even after Pandya’s exit off Zampa, Dhoni paired up with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (unbeaten 32) to stitch a 72-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
With the ‘Super King’ Dhoni saving the day for India, the question marks over India’s middle-order would also go under the carpet for a while.
Chennai won, over to Kolkata!
Latest on Sportstar
- NBA Finals: 3 takeaways from Game 2 as Miami Heat levels series
- Australia’s Hazlewood eases fears over long-term fitness
- Benzema’s Real exit ‘surprise to everyone’, says Ancelotti
- French Open: Jabeur ‘not so far’ from her best after injury-plagued season
- Formula 1: Perez need not put pressure on himself, says Horner