Fortunes swung like a pendulum, but India held their nerve to post a 26-run win (DLS method) over Australia at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday to go 1-0 up in the five-match series.
A tenacious M.S. Dhoni (79 off 88 balls) and a counter-attacking Hardik Pandya (83 off 66 balls) came together in a brilliant rescue act as India rallied their way from a horrendous start to post a challenging 281 for 7 in 50 overs. A two-hour rain delay tilted the contest in favour of Australia as the target was revised to 164 in 21 overs. But a brilliant bowling performance by Pandya (2/28) and wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal (3/30) and Kuldeep Yadav (2/33) pinned Australia down to 137 for nine. M S Dhoni continued to roll back the years while a young Hardik Pandya gave another exhibition of his highly-rated talent as India kicked off the limited-overs series against Australia on a victorious note.
However, their momentum was arrested by a two and a half hour stoppage due to a steady drizzle. Very light in terms of intensity but continuous in nature, the drizzle threatened to play spoilsport to Sunday’s proceedings but finally relented a little after 8 pm. The Australians were then set a revised target of 164 in 21 overs but the Indians came roaring back to the field to score a 26-run triumph by D/L method. Jasprit Bumrah set the ball rolling for the victory, first by uprooting the stumps of debutante Hilton Cartwright before running backwards and plucking a stunning catch to dismiss Steve Smith off Pandya. The visitors simply couldn’t kick on when faced with a steep target off 21 overs, as all their work in the Indian innings was undone.
India had been reduced to 87-5 but recovered thanks to Pandya who notched up his highest ODI score, surpassing his previous best of 76 against Pakistan in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy in June. Dhoni and Pandya’s knocks, totally contrasting in nature, and some fine hitting from Bhuvneshwar Kumar later on powered India eventually to a winning total.