India captain Virat Kohli praised allrounder Hardik Pandya and his bowlers after they beat Australia by 26 runs in the first ODI of a five-match series in Chennai on Sunday.
Batting at number seven, Pandya top-scored for the hosts with 83 off just 66 balls and he was part of a vital partnership of 118 with former skipper MS Dhoni (79) to help the home team score 281/7 in 50 overs.
Pandya then took two early wickets in the chase as Australia could only reach 137/9 in 21 overs after being set a revised target of 164 after a two hour rain delay.
Kohli said after the game: “We spoke at the toss that we wanted to put on a big score. We lost wickets but MS and Kedar Jadhav 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.
“Hardik believes in himself, and his innings was the game-changer. He possesses all three skills equally and we are lucky to have him.”
The India skipper also praised the efforts of his bowling group, calling them the best “T20 attack” that India could field.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal finished with figures of 3-30 from his five overs.
Kohli continued: “The bowlers were outstanding as well. It is a matter of giving players confidence. 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. After the rain, we felt this was our best T20 attack. We can’t have a more perfect combination.”
The second ODI of the series takes in Kolkata on Thursday.