Australia captain Steve Smith said the partnership between MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya changed the game as the Aussies fell to a 26-run defeat against India in the first ODI in Chennai on Sunday.
Having lost the toss and being made to field, the visitors started well as they reduced the home team to 11/ and then 87/5 by the 22nd over.
However, Dhoni (79) and Pandya 83) then combined to add 118 for the sixth wicket before Dhoni put on a vital 72 with tail-ender Bhuvneshwar Kumar (32 not out) as India reached a respectable 281/7 in their 50 overs.
After a lengthy rain delay, Australia chased a revised target of 164 in 21 overs but fell short as they could only muster 137/9.
Smith said after the game: “That (Dhoni and Pandya) partnership changed the game. They put on 120-odd and took them from 87 to 206. In the end that proved to be a match-winning partnership.
“Unfortunately we weren’t able to capitalise on the start we had. We started very well with the new ball. That’s a positive for us. One thing we have been working on.
“Over the last 18 months, we haven’t started well with the new ball, we haven’t been able to draw things back. I thought we bowled to the conditions and bowled to the right areas.”
Smith said his bowlers went away from their plans during the middle overs, especially to Pandya who was particularly aggressive.
The hard-hitting right-hander at one stage struck leg-spinner Adam Zampa for three consecutive sixes.
Smith added: “I think we probably we went away from our plans a little bit. “We were hitting such a good length and certainly persisted with that for a while with the good bouncers we were bowling.
“We were trying too many things, too many slower balls, just not hitting that good hard length we were hit early on.
“The message to Zampa as well was to bring his length back a bit. He was bowling very full and Hardik looked like hitting everyone of those for a six.
“As soon as he got his length back a bit and made him go across the ball, he got him out. He just bowled a fraction full and paid the price.”
The second ODI of the five-match series takes place in Kolkata on Thursday.