Virat Kohli has showered praise on the lower and middle order batsmen, especially MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya, for a strong fightback that helped India score a competitive 281/7 despite languishing at 11/3 at one point. Kohli also termed Hardik Pandya as the “game-changer” for the hosts.
Ahead of India’s five-match One-Day International series against Australia, Kohli had a clear-cut message for his batting line-up - be versatile and ready to bat in any position or situation. And yesterday, when Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile hit the perfect line and length to put India to a precarious situation with a score of 87/5 in 22 overs, the Indian lower middle-order, specifically MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya, showed fantastic game awareness to take India out of the troubled waters and helped the team reach a score of 281/7, which seemed almost impossible at one point
"We spoke at the toss that we wanted to put on a big score. We lost wickets but MS (Dhoni) and Kedar 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," Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Although Pandya's particular liking for power-hitting is well-documented, being the Indian cricket team’s finisher requires a perfect understanding of the match situation as not all situations are tailor-made for a late tee off and not all merit a hit-or-miss attitude. Sometimes, it needs temperament to have a recovery mode for long spells even before thinking about hitting the ball. And yesterday, Pandya did it beautifully and along with Dhoni, rotated the strike to lift India out of that phase. Rightfully, the Indian skipper praised him and called him the “match-changer”.
"Hardik believes in himself, and his innings was the game-changer. He possesses all three skills equally and we are lucky to have him," Kohli added.
The India captain also complimented his bowlers for restricting Australia after the visitors were set a revised target of 164 off 21 overs in the rain-curtailed match.
"The bowlers were outstanding as well. It is a matter of giving players confidence. (Yuzvendra) 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," Kohli said.
"After the rain, we felt this was our best T20 attack. We can't have a perfect combination."
India will now play the second ODI of the series in Kolkata on September 21.
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