CHENNAI, Sept 18: Skipper Virat Kohli today said Hardik Pandya�s blistering half-century at a crucial stage was the game-changer for India in the first ODI of the five-match series against Australia, here.
India beat Australia by 26 runs via Duckworth-Lewis method in the rain-affected match to go 1-0 up in the series.
Courtesy Pandya�s blistering career-best 66-ball 83 and Dhoni�s 79 off 88 balls, India posted a competitive 281 for seven despite losing the top half for less than 100 after opting to bat.
And Kohli said India once again today proved how good their lower-middle order was.
�We spoke at the toss that we wanted to put on a big score. We lost wickets but MS (Dhoni) and Kedar played well. Hardik and later MS finished it off like he does.
�Today was an example of how good the middle and lower order can be,� he said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
�Hardik believes in himself, and his innings was the game-changer. He possesses all three skills equally and we are lucky to have him,� Kohli added.
The India captain also complemented his bowlers for restricting Australia after the visitors were set a revised target of 164 off 21 overs in the rain-curtailed match.
�The bowlers were outstanding as well. It is a matter of giving players confidence. (Yuzvendra) Chahal is very brave and doesn�t say no to any situation. Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and (Jasprit) Bumrah were very clinical and our bank bowlers,� Kohli said.
Brief scores: India 281/7 (Hardik Pandya 83, MS Dhoni 79, Kedar Jadhav 40, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 32, Manish Pandey 40, Rohit Sharma 28; Coulter-Nile 3/44). Australia 137/9 (Glenn Maxwell 39, James Faulkner 32, David Warner 25; Yuzvendra Chahal 3/30, Hardik Pandya 2/28, Kuldeep Yadav 2/33). � PTI