India all-rounder Hardik Pandya cashed in on an early reprieve during his swashbuckling innings against Australia, smashing 48 off 27 balls which gave his team the push that was needed to put up a massive total on the board in their second World Cup 2019 match in London on Sunday.
Hardik Pandya was elevated up the batting order to No.4 and walked in after Shikhar Dhawan's wicket in the 37th over. Hardik shared an 81-run partnership with Virat Kohli and did the bulk of the scoring even though the Indian captain was well-set in the middle at that time.
Hardik hit three sixes and four boundaries in his brief cameo and narrowly missed out on scoring the fastest half-century in this World Cup. But his knock helped India go past the 300-run mark in the 46th over.
Kohli (82), MS Dhoni (27) and KL Rahul (11 not out) then made sure to take the score past 350 which took the game out of Australia's reach.
"Alex Carey would be not so happy with what he did. Hardik was dropped first ball that cost them big time because he is someone you wouldn't want to give him an extra chance. The first chance that he gives you better catch that ball
"With Hardik having that ability to clear the boundary so effortlessly, you want to see his back when he's going full swing you don't want him to spend time in the middle. When we lost that wicket (Shikhar Dhawan) I was just hoping either Dhoni or Hardik should walk in and it rightly happened so," Sachin Tendulkar told India Today after the game.
Tendulkar, who spent a lot of time with Hardik Pandya at Mumbai Indians in IPL 2019, also pointed out the changes that the all-rounder has made in his game which is why he has been so successful with the bat this year as opposed to his performances in the last couple of years.
"He always had this ability of having a great bat swing. It's a free bat swing and during the impact he's stable. Early on in his career he was trying to hit the ball too hard and would lose shape.
"Now he's maintaining a good shape and that centre of gravity is far more stable. He is not slogging, he's playing proper cricket shots and he did so even in IPL 2019," Tendulkar said.
India rode on opener Shikhar Dhawan (117) and captain Kohli's (82) knocks to post a mammoth 352 for 5 after winning the toss and then bowled out Australia for 316 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah taking 3 wickets each.
The defending champions had won both their games before losing to India in this World Cup while India had defeated South Africa in their opening match.