After facing defeats in the first two ODIs, the Indian cricket team finally got back to winning ways on Wednesday in Canberra, ending their five-match losing streak in the format. Hardik Pandya’s stellar show in the third and the final ODI guided India to their first win in the series Down Under. His match-winning 92 has impressed former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar who was initially sceptical about Pandya’s selection in the ODI squad for the Australia series.
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Pandya took the limelight with his unbeaten 90 in the first match, then recording a match-winning 92 in the series finale victory, which prevented a 0-3 sweep for India. Besides, Pandya also tops Indian side’s batting charts in the three-match series, scoring a total of 210 runs, including his two top highest individual scores in ODIs.
Manjrekar supported Pandya saying that India have found a reliable No. 6 batsman in him and that he is confident about his performance even if he is not bowling. The former batsman added that he was impressed with Pandya’s maturity shown during his knocks in Sydney and Canberra.
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“I was skeptical when they picked him on IPL performance. I thought he was a good T20 batsman but 50 over – is a slightly different game. Can Hardik Pandya be a pure 50 overs batsman and he proved to all of us that he can,” Manjrekar said on Sony Six after India’s win in the 3rd ODI.
“He had that score in the first match but we have seen him get runs and not be consistent enough but we have seen in this game again today. So yes, India have found a pure No. 6. Who knows he might start going up the order?”
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Manjrekar accepted that Pandya’s rollicking performance with the bat has forced him to change his mind on the latter batting at number six in the batting order. The former India batsman initially believes that if India are playing a genuine batsman at No. 6, Manish Pandey could have been a better option but following Pandya’s heroics, Manjrekar changed his mind.
“It wasn’t a T20 innings, India lost early wickets and he got 30 from his first 30 balls. He has got the range and not too many bowlers can keep him quiet. That’s really impressive. He has convinced me as I was skeptical about him as a No. 6 pure batsman. I think India have found one,” said Manjrekar.
“Whether he bowls or not, India have now found a very capable batsman who can be used as an option in No. 5 or No. 6.”
Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja led the team to rescue after India sensed trouble at 152 for 5 following Virat Kohli’s expulsion in the 32nd over. The duo contributed a record-breaking, unbeaten stand of 150 runs as India finished on 302. After gaining a consolation victory and having their account opened in Australia, India will be more optimistic as they take on Australia in the first of the three-match T20I series in Canberra on Friday.