World Cup 2019: Sending Hardik Pandya at No. 4 was a masterstroke
However, on a flat Oval deck, anything less than 325 would have been chaseable, and more so for a team like Australia. The defending champions eventually ended up with getting 316 - just 36 runs short of victory
A century from Shikhar Dhawan and half-centuries from skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma were easily the talking points after India posted a mammoth 352-5 against Australia on Sunday. However, on a flat Oval deck, anything less than 325 would have been chaseable, and more so for a team like Australia. The defending champions eventually ended up with getting 316 — just 36 runs short of victory.
India were well aware of the conditions at The Oval given they had lost in a Champions Trophy match to Sri Lanka here in 2017 after scoring 321.
On Sunday, the team management's decision to send Hardik Pandya at No. 4 proved to be a masterstroke as it pushed Team India's total by an extra 35-40 runs given the all-rounder's 27-ball 48 (4x4, 3x6). He hadn't batted in that position since 2017.
In the lead up to the World Cup, coach Ravi Shastri had said that India are flexible in the batting line-up and are not sweating over the contentious No. 4 position.
At 220-2 after 37 overs, with Kohli looking steady in the middle, had India stuck with KL Rahul at No. 4, it might not have yielded the desired outcome.
Kohli spoke about his communication with the team management on promoting Pandya in such situations. "The communication before that was that if I get out, MS [Dhoni] will come in to control one end, and if the other guy gets out, if Shikhar got out, then Hardik would have stepped in.
That's exactly what happened. Then, Hardik said to me in the middle that since I was at one end, he had the freedom to strike from Ball One. He wanted to strike at 200 [per cent]. That was his plan, and then MS came in and he did the same job beautifully.
That's where the team management and that communication is very important. They understood that this is a phase where we could get those extra runs, and they sent Hardik. I think that it was a very good plan," said Kohli in the post-match press conference on Sunday.
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