All-rounder Hardik Pandya's blistering 83 complemented by a responsible 79 from Chennai's resident 'Super King' Mahendra Singh Dhoni saw India score a respectable 281 for 7 against Australia in the first One Day International, here today. Pandya and Dhoni scripted a brilliant recovery act after India's top-half was blown away for only 87 runs -- courtesy some controlled swing bowling from Nathan Coulter-Nile (3/44) and Marcus Stoinis (2/54). The duo added 118 runs for the sixth wicket with Pandya taking the attack back to opposition with some brilliant sixes while Dhoni once again played the role of sheet anchor to perfection. Pandya's 66-ball innings had five boundaries and five sixes -- four of which were hit off leg-spinner Adam Zampa's over. Dhoni on his part hit four boundaries and two sixes -- both coming down the track and lofting over extra cover off pace bowling. The former skipper played 88 balls.
The two sixes were the kind of shots that one doesn't associate with Dhoni -- maximums over extra cover. Dhoni also added 72 runs for the seventh wicket with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (32 off 30 balls) in only 8.5 overs which took India beyond 280 plus total -- something that looked unlikely at the halfway stage. The turning point of the innings was the 37th over bowled by Zampa (1/66 in 10 overs) when Pandya launched into him. India were 148 for 5 at that stage and the pressure was on Pandya and Dhoni, who were trying to rebuild the innings. Pandya started with a boundary off a full toss and followed it up with three huge sixes as 24 runs came off that over. Australian bowling attack suddenly felt the pressure after that. Earlier, Coulter-Nile making a comeback to the team after being dropped from Australia's Champions Trophy squad, made early inroads by removing Ajinkya Rahane for 5. The Mumbai batsman didn't look very convincing in his brief stay. He was dismissed going for a drive off a swinging delivery from Coulter-Nile only to be caught behind by Wade. Skipper Kohli shaped for a drive and missed off the second delivery he received after having left the first one alone. After playing the third towards cover quietly, the captain was on his way after being snapped up the athletic Glenn Maxwell at point going for an expansive drive off Coulter-Nile. Maxwell did well to time his jump and take a one-handed catch to cut short Kohli's stay at the crease. Manish Pandey, who got the nod ahead of his Karnataka state-mate KL Rahul, lasted just two balls. He was out fishing at a delivery on fifth stump. India were in dumps at 11 for 3 when Rohit Sharma (28) and Kedar Jadhav (40) revived the innings with a 53-run stand. Both were out trying to pull short deliveries from Stoinis before Pandya-Dhoni took over.
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