The Indian batsmen made a merry against the Australian bowlers after having posted a massive score of 352/5 in 50 overs at The Oval on Sunday. Shikhar Dhawan smashed a fabulous 117-run knock, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli stroked brilliant fifties each. Indian all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who was given a promotion at number four to up the ante, played a fantastic cameo knock of 48 runs off just 27 balls that included of 4 fours and 3 sixes.
That assault on Australia’s bowlers gave India a great cushion and underlined their flexibility and power hitting, as Kohli identified after the match, but also gave the captain the rare opportunity to sit back and play second fiddle. Not having to shift gears, said Kohli, was a relief and this was due to Pandya’s electric cameo. For Kohli, Pandya’s successful IPL for winners Mumbai Indians – he scored 402 runs at a strike-rate of 191.42 – was a big factor in the allrounder’s belief.
“Clarity of mind, brilliant striking ability … He knows he’s batting really well, and in the past sometimes he tried too hard, but I think what this IPL has done for his batting is that he believes our he knows that he can clear the boundary whenever he wants,” said Virat Kohli during the post-match press conference.
He just wants to express himself
Pandya’s array of shots was on display as he tucked into Australia’s bowlers. He began by clattering Nathan Coulter-Nile past square leg for four, and then hit sixes off Glenn Maxwell and Adam Zampa. Coulter-Nile was forced to take evasive action as a thumped four back at his head sped to the straight boundary, and this was followed by a flowing six off Pat Cummins and two more fours off the same bowler. What this innings from Pandya did was let Kohli take a backseat, as he revealed, and showed what the allrounder brings to India’s lineup.
“Honestly, he doesn’t really care what tournament he’s playing. He just wants to go out there and express himself, and that’s his strength, and he should always stick to is that strength, and that’s why we back him so much, because he has game-changing ability and he believes in himself a lot,” Kohli added.
“He’s in a good space right now. Important to stay in that space, really have fun, which he’s doing at the moment, and I’m really delighted to see him come back so strongly and just enjoying himself on the field. He’s not taking things too harshly on him. He’s just having fun and respecting the sport and just playing the sport for the love of it, which is really good to see,” he concluded.