Hardik leads India to victory in Chennai

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Hardik Pandya starred with bat and ball to lead India to a 26-run victory (D/L method) over Australia in the first ODI of a five-match series in Chennai on Sunday.

Pandya first scored a blistering 83 from just 66 balls ( five fours and five sixes) as the hosts posted a respectable 281/7 in their 50 overs.

The allrounder then took two early wickets as the Aussies could only muster 137 for nine after their innings was reduced to 21 overs after rain came down during the supper break.

Pandya came to the crease with India in trouble at 87/5 in the 22nd over but did not let the situation of the game get to him as he counter-attacked superbly.

Together with MS Dhoni (79) the duo put on 118 for the sixth wicket as Pandya recorded his highest ODI score, and the third half-century of his career.

Dhoni, who recorded his 100th international fifty, also put on 72 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (32 not out) after Pandya fell with just about 10 overs of the innings still remaining.

Seamer Nathan Courter-Nile (3-44 in 10 overs) rocked India’s top-order as he accounted for Ajinkya Rahane (5), Virat Kohli (0) and Manish Pandey (0) to leave the hosts on 11/3 in the sixth over.

Rohit Sharma (28) and Kedar Jadhav (40) started the recovery with a stand of 53 but Pandya took over from there with seamer Marcus Stoinis also taking two wickets for the visitors.

Set a target of 164 from 21 overs, Australia lost makeshift opener Hilton Cartwright, standing in for the injured Aaron Finch, early as he was bowled by Jasprit Bumrah in the fourth over.

Pandya then showed his allround qualities with the scalps of Steve Smith (1) and Travis Head (5) in quick succession as Australia faltered early in the chase.

Glenn Maxwell tried to get the Aussies back on track with 39 off 18 balls but leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal again exposed Australia’s weakness against slow-bowling as he captured 3-30 in five overs while left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav also got two scalps.

Australia will look to bounce back in the second ODI at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.

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