Pandya leads India past Australia in sodden Chennai
Hardik Pandya starred with bat and ball as India defeated Australia by 26 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method in a damp Chennai on Sunday.
Pandya hit Adam Zampa for three successive sixes on the way to making a crucial 83 in the first one-day international at MA Chidambaram Stadium, where MS Dhoni weighed in with 79 and Bhuvneshwar Kumar added 32 during a lower-order rescue mission as India recovered from 11-3 to post 281-7.
Dhoni's half-century was the former captain's 100th in all international formats and proved popular in front of his home crowd, but Pandya will be remembered as the match-winner after following up his exploits at the crease with two early wickets in Australia's shortened run chase.
Persistent rain finally cleared to leave the visitors targeting 164 from 21 overs, but they proved unable to get to grips with the task, Glenn Maxwell top-scoring with 39, as Yuzvendra Chahal (3-30) led the hosts' bowling attack in cleaning up a limp tail as Australia fell well short on 137-9.
It was a disappointing end to a meeting that had provided such a promising opening for the tourists, who reduced India to 87-5 by the 22nd over.
Nathan Coulter-Nile (3-44) did the early damage, removing Ajinkya Rahane (5), Virat Kohli (0) and Manish Pandey (0) - the home captain dismissed courtesy of a stunning overhead catch from Maxwell at backward point.
Rohit Sharma (28) and Kedar Jadhav (40) laid the foundations for India's recovery, the former benefiting from Steve Smith's uncharacteristic missed catch at second slip with the surviving opener on four.
Their 53-run stand for the fourth wicket was interrupted by a short Marcus Stoinis ball, which tempted Rohit into a pull shot that was taken by Coulter-Nile at deep square leg.
Stoinis (2-54) accounted for Jadhav in a similar manner six overs later, this time Hilton Cartwright snaffling an easy catch at midwicket.
Pandya survived a second dropped Smith catch and another near miss at mid-on as he triggered India's revival, which, together with the crucial contributions of Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar, propelled the hosts to a competitive total.
After a lengthy delay, Australia's innings got off to a faltering start when ODI debutant Cartwright misread Jasprit Bumrah (1-20) and was bowled for one off eight deliveries.
A major blow followed in the next over, Bumrah taking an excellent catch when Smith's leading edge launched a Pandya (2-28) ball high into the night sky, the tourists' skipper also departing for just one.
Travis Head fell for five in more conventional fashion two overs later, edging Pandya to Dhoni.
And worse was to follow for Australia, as David Warner failed to build on a start of 25, the dangerman trying to cut a Kuldeep Yadav (2-33) slider and only managing to nick it behind.
Stoinis (3) and Matthew Wade (9) proved unable to turn the tide, with a battling 32 not out from James Faulkner mattering little, as India took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.