All-round Pandya sinks Australia in series opener

Hardik Pandya stole the show, first with a classy knock of 83 in just 66 deliveries, and later by picking up two crucial wickets against Australia, which failed to chase down 164 in the rain-truncated first ODI.

Hardik Pandya boosted a struggling India to a match-winning total with a 66-ball 83.   -  PTI

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.

DETAILED SCORECARD

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.

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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.

KEY STATS

  • India has won back to back games over Australia for the first time since 2013, having lost their six games prior to this run.
  • This was the first time Steven Smith has failed to reach double figures in an ODI vs India, his previous lowest score against it was 28 and he averaged 66.7 against it before this match.
  • Glenn Maxwell smashed four sixes in his innings, his highest tally since the 2015 World Cup where he hit 4 vs Sri Lanka and 7 vs Afghanistan.
  • This is Australia’s ninth away defeat in a row, its worst previous such run was five defeats on the bounce.
  • This was the second time Yuzvendra Chahal has taken 3 wickets in an ODI match, only once has he failed to take at least one wicket in a match (8 innings).


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!