Chennai: This is team India. In the lines of MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya’s insane hitting, India ended at 281/7 after 50 overs against Australia in the first of the five-match series at MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Sunday.
Deliveries were disappearing into the stands when duo were in their flow.
Men in Blue were reduced to 64-4 when Dhoni came to bat. He yet again shown why he is the limited-over heavyweight. Together with Hardik Pandya, he shared crucial 118-run stand and rescued India from a dangerous situation.
Pandya played inning of his life and smashed five fours and same sixes in his 66-ball 83-run knock. This was the Baroda all-rounder’s career-best ODI score, surpassing the 76, which he belted against Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy final in England, earlier this year.
After the departure of Hardik, Bhuvneshwar came and once again impressed with the bat. Dhoni, Bhuvi stitched 72-run partnership when India was looking nowhere towards a big total.
MSD who started his inning slowly, seeing India struggling, launched some serious hammering before getting dismissed at 79. He hit four fours and two sixes in his 88-ball knock.
Earlier, India were off to a forgettable start with three of the top four batsmen back in the hut with only 11 runs on the board.
Pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile made a stunning comeback to 50-over cricket by claiming opener Ajinkya Rahane (5), and skipper Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey (both for noughts) for the scorecard to read 11/3.
Rahane was the first to depart after a wild swing at a ball wide outside the off-stump found the edge and sailed into Matthew Wade’s gloves behind the wicket.
Next up was the prized scalp of Kohli, who couldn’t resist the temptation to drive and Glenn Maxwell leapt in the air at gully to take an incredible one-handed catch.
Pandey, too, nicked one to Wade to give the 29-year-old Coulter-Nile his third wicket.
With the team in deep trouble, opener Rohit Sharma (28) and Kedar Jadhav (40) brought some solidity with a 53-run fourth wicket stand before Sharma fell to a short-pitched delivery from Marcus Stoinis.
Stoinis added salt to India’s wounds with the wicket of Jadhav, who looked good during his 53-ball stay, striking five hits to the fence.
With India tottering at 87/5, it all depended on the last recognised batting duo of Dhoni and Pandya, who got their act together to deliver the needed stability. The stumper then added the late order fireworks with Bhuvneshwar for company.
The 36-year-old Ranchi stumper started off slowly and was overtaken by Pandya early on but took off in the later stages of the innings to enable India reach a comfortable total.
For the visitors, Coulter-Nile finished with figures of 3/44 while Stoinis took 2/54. James Faulkner (1/67) and Zampa (1/66) were the other wicket-takers.