Indore, Sep 24 (IANS) Captain Virat Kohli praised Hardik Pandya, describing the Baroda all-rounder as a “star” as he helped India defeat Australia by five wickets to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) cricket series here on Sunday.
Right-hander Pandya, promoted to No.4, cracked a match-winning 78 off 72 deliveries as India chased down Australia’s total of 293/6 with 2.1 overs to spare.
Pandya, now a regular for India in all the three formats, had also ended Australia’s opening partnership of 70 runs between David Warner (42) and Aaron Finch (124).
The Baroda man had also scored 83 in a match-saving knock in the first ODI. He also has five wickets in the series so far.
“He’s a star. He bowls, bats and fields as well. He is the guy we were looking for in a long time. He gives us great balance in the squad,” Kohli said of the 23-year-old at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“He is a great asset for Indian cricket. He never doubts himself. He has great self-belief and likes challenging himself,” Kohli said.
Asked about the idea behind promoting the right-hander Pandya ahead of the likes of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Manish Pandey, Kohli said: “His promotion today was (head coach) Ravi (Shastri) Bhai’s thought. He felt we needed to attack the spinner (Ashton Agar) to keep him out of the game.”
Man-of-the-Match Pandya said: It feels good, but I couldn’t finish the match. I saw the promotion as an opportunity than a surprise. I wanted to target the left-arm spinner.
“When I got the sixes, I knew that I can play a few dot balls as well. I try to contribute in every way I can. I want to get better, there’s always scope for improvement.”
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