Hardik Pandya had a dream night both with the bat and the ball in Chennai on Sunday, September 17 as India crushed Australia by 26 runs (D/L) in the first of the five-match ODI series.
The Indian all-rounder hit 83 off just 66 balls and picked up two crucial wickets of Australian skipper Steve Smith and Travis Head to hurt the visitors' chase of a revised target of 164 in 21 overs in the rain-curtailed match.
Maxwell's efforts go in vain
Glenn Maxwell gave Australia hope with an 18-ball 38 that had four sixes and three boundaries, but the all-rounder found little support from his teammates.
James Faulkner remained not out on 35, but his effort with the bat was not enough for Australia, who struggled on the sluggish surface of the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Indian wrist-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who were picked ahead of the experienced Ravindra Jadeja, shared five wickets between them as most of the visiting batsmen were clueless against the duo, which bowled nine overs and conceded just 63.
Game-changing stand from Pandya and Dhoni
Earlier in the day, India posted 281 after Pandya and MS Dhoni helped India recover from 11 for 3. Skipper Virat Kohli and in-form Manish Pandey went for 0s as Nathan Coulter-Nile ran through the Indian top-order in the afternoon.
Dhoni and Pandya joined hands when India had lost half the side for just 87 runs. The two added on 118 runs for the sixth wicket that swung the momentum back in India's favour.
Dhoni then entered the MA Chidambaram Stadium to loud cheers from the crowd who were excited to see their former Chennai Super Kings skipper. The 36-year-old did not disappoint as he came up with a crucial innings (88-ball 79) to help India out of trouble.
Pandya and Dhoni played cautiously during the middle overs as they were happy to just knock it around for singles and doubles. However, the Mumbai Indians all-rounder cut loose, hitting Adam Zampa for three consecutive sixes to collect 24 runs in the 37th over of the game.
Pandya did not hold back as he went about hitting the balls out of the park. However, he finally fell when he tried to hit yet another maximum off Zampa. Dhoni then combined with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who played a crucial knock of 32 from 30 balls to help India post a competitive total on a sluggish wicket.
India and Australia will now head to Kolkata for the second ODI, which will be played on Thursday, September 21.
Brief scores: India 281 for 7 in 50 overs (Pandya 83, Dhoni 79; Coulter-Nile 3 for 44) beat Australia 137 for 9 (Maxwell 39, Faulkner 32*; Chahal 3 for 30) by 26 runs (D/L).