Indian captain Virat Kohli was all praise for his team’s middle order and Hardik Pandya in particular after India’s 26 run (D/L) win over Australia. On a day when India’s formidable top order failed to fire, the likes of Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya stepped up to help the hosts put up a formidable total. Pandya scored a blistering 83 off 66 balls that took away the momentum from Australia in a rain-soaked first ODI at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram stadium.
“Hardik believes in himself, and his innings was the game-changer,” said Kohli in the post-match presentation, “He possesses all three skills equally and we are lucky to have him.” Australia’s innings started late and their target was reduced to 164 that they had to get in 21 overs. Pandya chipped in at this point as well, picking the all-important wicket of Australian skipper Steve Smith and that of Travis Head.
Kohli also said that India’s middle order and bowling strength was on show in Chennai, “Today was an example, Sri Lanka was the example of how good the middle and lower order can be,” he said, “The bowlers were outstanding as well. It is a matter of giving players confidence. Chahal is very brave and doesn’t say no to any situation. Bhuvi and Bumrah very clinical and our bank bowlers. After the rain, we felt this was our best T20 attack. We can’t have a more perfect combination.”
Steve Smith, on the other hand, was left ruing missed opportunities. “Yeah, obviously we got ourselves into a good position,” said the Australia skipper, “We had them at 5 for 87 and let things off a bit. MS and Hardik had a great partnership. The new ball was stopping and some skidded on. We lost too many wickets in the middle. You can’t control the weather. No complaints, we weren’t good enough and we were outplayed by India. I thought Cummins and Coulter-Nile bowled very well in the new ball and hopefully they can back it up in a couple of days time. It was a tough wicket with the new ball, and then we went away from our plans too early.”