Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni launched two counter-attacks at two different moments in the first ODI against Australia to help India recover from 11 for 3 and later 87 for 5 and take their team to 281 for 7 at the end of the 50 overs in Chennai. Pandya’s ability to hit sixes at will was on display once again as he ended with 83 runs from 66 balls.
India won the toss and Virat Kohli had no doubt in his mind in deciding to bat on a flat yet slow Chennai wicket. The total of 281 for 7 will become a challenging one for Australia as the pitch will only get slower and hopefully there will be no dew.
India’s innings was a mix of domination of fast bowlers and batsmen alike. Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile rocked India with three wickets inside first six overs. Ajinkya Rahane, who was promoted as opener in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan, was caught behind off Cummins before Coulter-Nile picked two wickets in one over.
Kohli chased a wide ball, which was moving away from him, outside off-stump and smashed at it. It was flying but Glenn Maxwell at backward point jumped to perfection to pull-off a stunning one-handed catch. Kohli was out for duck and Manish Pandey followed two balls later as he edged one behind to Matthew Wade.
In a near perfect first hour for Australia, Steve Smith could have made it better had he held on to a catch second slip. Rohit Sharma’s drop cost Australia a few runs but he was eventually dismissed by Marcus Stoinis for 28 when he pulled a short ball to deep square leg.
But, what hurt Australia more was Smith’s second drop. Pandya was on 13 when Smith misjudged a catch. He added 70 more runs which allowed India to comeback. Kedar Jadhav made a 40 to stop the fall of wickets but he was dismissed caught at mid-wicket trying to drag a short-ball.
While Rohit and Jadhav failed to adjust to the timing of their assault, Pandya managed it perfectly. He went after Adam Zampa and took him for three consecutive sixes — fourth such bowler to receive such treatment. But Zampa had the last laugh as he had him caught at short third-man. Pandya tried to play against he spin, trying to slog him but managed only a top edge.
Dhoni was left to bat with the tail and his strike-rate was in the mid 60s. But Bhuvneshwar Kumar showed the maturity expected from him. He attacked and rotated the strike in equal measure. But the crowed was mesmerised when Dhoni got going. He completed his 100th international half-century with only one boundary that came off his 66th delivery.
But he then charged against James Faulker and took the team total past 250. Bhuneshwar also supported him with an unbeaten 32 off 30 with five boundaries in it.