India sprung a big surprise during its chase in the third One-Day International against Australia on Sunday (September 24). Chasing 294, India were off to a solid start after Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane added 139 runs for the first wicket. However, both the openers were dismissed in quick succession and while everyone was expecting Manish Pandey to walk in at number 4, the team sent in Hardik Pandya.
With close to 150 runs still needed, sending in a pinch hitter looked a bit absurd. However, Pandya soon quashed all the apprehensions as he mixed caution with aggression to help India win the game quite comfortably and seal the series. The 23-year old scored 78 runs off just 72 balls with the help of 5 fours and 4 sixes as India chased down the total with more than two overs remaining.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, India captain Virat Kohli revealed it was head coach Ravi Shastri’s decision to promote Pandya in order to counter the spinners.
“I’m really, really satisfied with the win. He (Pandya) is a star, has the ability with the ball, bat and the field. We need a guy like that, we’ve been missing an explosive all- rounder. He is a great asset for Indian cricket,” Kohli said after the match.
“The idea behind his promotion was Ravi (Shastri) bhai, to attack the spinner,” he added.
Kohli also had a word of praise for India’s wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
“Wrist spinners need to be backed, they won’t always get grip from the wicket, but they possess the ability to get wickets,” he said.