‘Hardik believes in himself, and his innings was the game-changer’
Skipper Virat Kohli on Sunday said Hardik Pandya's blistering half-century at a crucial stage was the game-changer for India in the first One-day International of the five-match series against Australia, in Chennai.
India beat Australia by 26 runs via Duckworth-Lewis method in the rain-affected match to go 1-0 up in the series.
Courtesy Pandya's blistering career-best 66-ball 83 and Dhoni's 79 off 88 balls, India posted a competitive 281 for seven despite losing the top half for less than 100 after opting to bat.
And Kohli said India once again proved how good their lower-middle was.
"We spoke at the toss that we wanted to put on a big score. We lost wickets but MS (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) and Kedar played well. Hardik and later MS finished it off like he does.”
"Today was an example of how good the middle and lower order can be," he said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
"Hardik believes in himself, and his innings was the game-changer. He possesses all three skills equally and we are lucky to have him," Kohli added.
The India captain also complemented his bowlers for restricting Australia after the visitors were set a revised target of 164 off 21 overs in the rain-curtailed match.
"The bowlers were outstanding as well. It is a matter of giving players confidence. (Yuzvendra) Chahal is very brave and doesn't say no to any situation. Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and (Jasprit) Bumrah were very clinical and our bank bowlers," Kohli said.
"After the rain, we felt this was our best T20 attack. We can't have a more perfect combination."
Rival captain Steve Smith said they lost the plot after reducing India to 87 for five.
"Yeah, obviously we got ourselves into a good position. We had them at 5 for 87 and let things off a bit," he said.
Smith said the better side won.
“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," he said.