India vs. Australia – Hardik Pandya Leads India to No.1 Ranking and Series Win

From January 2013 to the current series, India-Australia ODI recorded the first-innings average score of 321 runs. That high-scoring trend has been set by the first two ODIs, when India defended 281 and 252. But the return to the old form has been catalyzed in Indore by a belter of a pitch. Recovered from calf injury, Aaron Finch scored 154 for second wicket (his 8th hundred in ODI), while Steven Smith projected the visions of 350 in the minds of Australians.

Thanks to the expert bowlers and wrist-spinners, India took them to 293 for 6 and took 5 wickets and just 77 over the past 14 overs. Australia failed to get a sniff as 70s of different tempos and moods from Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma at the top of the line partnering with Hardik Pandya at No. 4 led India to a series win by 5 wickets, and 13 balls left. It was the 9th time they won ODI in a row, and equaled their best series ever.

Rohit gave the early fillip to the chase with innings of gasp-provoking strokes. In his 62 balls, he stroke 4 sizes and scored 71, while 3 fours were off the quicks – a full swing from Nathan Coulter-Nile lofted straight and flat, a short from Kane Richardson, and a bouncer from Pat Cummins behind square leg. His partner was also in the same form. Rahane just slotted into slipstream and gave much of the strike as possible to him and helped himself whenever bowlers angled down or dropped short on the leg side. Their partnership scored 139 out of 130 balls.

Both openers ended up in the gap of 12 balls. Here comes Pandya at No.4, replacing the incumbent Manish Pandey, when India needed 147 with 159 balls at hand. It needed stickability instead striking balls, which is Pandya’s specialty. Initially, he tried to befit the situation in the innings. He gave an early warning to Ashton Agar about the lengths he was not expected to bowl and hit the first balls of overs from left-handed spinner over the long boundary, but simply looked to turn the strike over and partnered with Kohli.  He showed a lot of poise over the seamers and a full-face to anything risky for the stumps and Kohli gradually played a big shot at the end of third wicket.

That wicket was followed by the wicket of Kedar Jadhav, who top-edged the slash over the fourth ball faced by him. When India required 88 on 88 balls, Australia had slightest of openings, but Pandey and Pandya closed the door for the Aussies with 5th wicket position of 78 on 63 balls. By the end, 294 was just not that challenging. Both captains suggested that it was the pitch of 330 to 340 runs on the presentation before match.

Australia was seeking at the score where they were 206 for 1 in 360 overs. Here, Kuldeep Yadav was unlikeliest bowler who could turn the match. Finch managed to hit his third six. It was a miscued loft which might have been caught on the ground. Along with one-shot, Finch picked the variations of Kuldeep better than any other Australian batsman. He looked completely in control over him. At that point, Kuldeep’s figures were 7-0-55-0.

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