Hardik Pandya gave a big thumbs up to the embattled KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja, following India’s five-wicket win against Australia in the first ODI in Mumbai, saying they had a huge calming effect on those watching from the sidelines.
Test vice-captain Rahul, who was dropped for the third and fourth Tests against Australia because of poor form, struck an unbeaten 75 and along with Jadeja (45 not out) helped the hosts take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
“I am really proud the way we played today. Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) did what he was supposed to do coming back after eight months away from ODIs. I enjoyed my bowling and batting, would have loved to finish it off, but the way KL (Rahul) and Jaddu batted, it was calming to those watching from the outside,” said Pandya, the stand-in India skipper for the match at Wankhede. Rahul, who mostly opens for India, was brought at No.5 following his Test disappointments. But despite the chips being down, he played patiently, consuming 96 balls for his well-made 75.
Pandya conceded India were under pressure while bowling as well as batting, but in the end the team’s composure saw it through.
Mitchell Marsh’s 65-ball 81 and the quick start the visitors got did put India under some stress but Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Jadeja kept chipping away with timely wickets to finally bundle out Australia for 188 in 35.4 overs.
“We were under pressure in both the innings, but we kept our composure, and found ways to come out of those situations. When we got the momentum our way, we didn’t let it go,” added Pandya.
‘Player of the Match’ Jadeja said playing ODI cricket after eight months due to a knee surgery, he was only looking to get used to the format and that his performance had come as a bonus. “Playing ODI cricket after eight months, I was just looking to adapt to the format as early as possible. Luckily I got two wickets, and with the bat I was only looking to build a partnership with KL (Rahul). “We were playing Test cricket so the line and length is different here. You can’t keep bowling one pace. I was just looking to bowl in good areas. Also I was getting a little bit of turn, so I thought I need to bowl in the right areas and the wicket will do the rest,” added Jadeja.
Losing team captain Steve Smith said a score in the vicinity of 260-270 would have been par for the wicket, adding that India bowled really well to rock their boat. “We weren’t expecting this when we rocked up here. India bowled well this morning, but we probably left a few out there. Had we got 250, we would have had some match.
“Mitch (Marsh) started really well. He took the game on early, and got a few away. Through the middle we lost a few too many wickets. We were always one partnership from them beating us, and Jadeja and Rahul did that. 260-270 was par. “It (wicket) was offering a fair bit for the seamers. The ball swung pretty much throughout. We just needed to score more runs. If we had got a partnership and take it deeper. It was not to be, and credit to India,” lamented Smith.