The record run chase (tour of Australia 2016)
It remains Pandey’s most significant contribution for India, and the special innings came at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground. India, 4-0 down in the series, was chasing 331 for a victory in the final ODI. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan put together 123 for the first wicket and India lost Virat Kohli cheaply. Pandey walked in at No. 4 with India needing 197 runs from 178 balls. He stitched a 97-run partnership with Rohit, who struggled to retain the momentum after a sublime start. But, Pandey scored at more than a run a ball from the get-go to make up for Rohit’s mid-innings struggle and keep India on course. His real challenge, though, came after Rohit fell and captain M. S. Dhoni walked in.
India needed 100 more runs to win from 91 balls, but with Dhoni struggling to rotate strike and find the boundary, Pandey, the set batsman, had to make up for the runs that weren’t coming from the other end. Pandey’s management of the run-chase was the standout feature of his debut hundred.
The runs didn’t really flow from the blade of Dhoni until after the 45th over, having trudged to 16 runs off 30 balls. Dhoni hit all of two boundaries in his entire 42-ball stay in the middle: he hit a four on the penultimate ball off the 48th over and a six off the first legitimate ball of the final over, from which India needed 13 runs. He was out the next delivery, trying to hoick a six over long-on once again, but the batsmen crossed over and Pandey was on strike. With India needing six runs from four balls, Pandey first hit a four to complete his hundred and followed up by picking a two to complete the win with two balls to spare. It remains the highest successful run-chase by a visiting team against Australia in Australia.