New Delhi: It was a complete surprise when Hardik Pandya stepped out at No.4 during the India-Australia encounter at Holkar Stadium, Indore. It was Manish Pandey's spot, as all had witnessed in the last two games, but the latter on Tuesday revealed that he was completely fine with the replacement as it was all part of the plan. And indeed it was as for the young all-rounder, he notched up a quickfire 78 to help the hosts beat the Aussies by five-wickets to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the series.
After a splendid 139-run opening stand by Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, India stuttered four down with the Aussies aiming for a what could have tuurned out to be a shocking comeback. Exactly 75 deliveries later, India were on the brink of an unassailable 3-0 lead. Pandya smashed up his 4th ODI fifty, while for Pandey, he stepped out as a No.6 batsman in the fag-end of their innings to give that late push and steer the Indian ship past the 293-run target.
"Well that is what the plan of the team was and I was comfortable with it. Sometimes the plan depends on if the spinners are around or sometimes may be a batsman is aggressive enough and can hit big sixes is asked to pad up. That is what the plan was and that is what Ravi Shastri told us in the meeting, " said Pandey at a presser in Bengaluru, on Tuesday.
"The plan did pan out. Hardik played really well and got another 50-plus score and thst is good for the middle order, makes it a bit easier for us. I am ready to bat at number 5 and if a wicket or two falls early on, our middle order is talented enough to carry on the team from there and win the match."
Pandey even threw light on his performance in the last three matches. A score of nought, then three at Eden Gardens brought in ample criticism from fans and a bit of concern among the analysts.
Definitely, in cricket, there is pressure in whatever you do – batting, bowling, fielding. But again it is all part of the game and I will definitely try my best to hold on to my position in the team...play a lot of games and try winning them. Yes there is spot for the taking, and I will work hard to find my spot in the team. So far I have been given the No.4 postion in the batting lineup, but there are times when the batting order are changed a bit," explained Pandey. "And yes I will be looking to play most of the games in that order and win the matches for India."
The right-handed batsman then shifted to the Aussies. 12 games without a win on foreign soil doesn't sum up to the team that was once the most formidable and the most fearsome of all.
Pandey said, "Probably everything isn't clicking for them at the same time. They are an excellent team, their top order lineup is indeed putting in the effort, but the middle order isnt clicking for them. While for us, our every depart has been clicking and I think that is why we have been doing well. But the, they are a good team and it always gives us a sense of joy when we beat them."
Team India will next face Australia for the fourth ODI at Bengaluru on September 28.