India all-rounder Hardik Pandya bowled in top-flight cricket for the first time since returning from a back surgery more than a year ago, with his team under pressure against Australia during the second ODI here on Sunday.
Two days ago, after the first One-day International, Pandya, who has remodelled his action to reduce the stress on his body, said he would bowl in the "important" games and only when the time is right.
On Sunday, the 27-year-old provided India a big breakthrough, dismissing centurion Steve Smith in the 42nd over during his four over spell.
"Hardik felt okay to bowl a couple of overs. Initially (we) just thought of trying (him) for a couple of overs but he felt good and bowled a couple of more. And I think he gave away a bit of (our) bowling plan with his off-cutters," Kohli said at the post-match presentation.
Pandya bowled a good first over, conceding just five runs against a rampaging Steve Smith and Marnus Labuchabugne at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
On either side of the dashing all-rounder's over, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and part-timer Mayank Agarwal were smashed for two boundaries each as Australia consolidated their position after a blazing start.
In his second over, Pandya gave away just four runs with the Australians finding it difficult to put away his slower balls.
Bowling his third over, he lured Smith into slashing a short and wide delivery, which seemed a part of his plan, straight into Mohammed Shami.
Winning captain Aaron Finch also said that his bowlers picked up some tricks from the way Pandya bowled.
"...we got a bit of a blueprint from Hardik, by taking the pace off the ball," he said.
Pandya's delivery stride earlier was too side-on but on Sunday, it looked open-chested, which he had worked on to reduce the burden on his body. On a day when the Indian bowlers found the going tough, Pandya returned impressive figures of 1/24 in four overs.
"It's refreshing. It takes a load off skipper and the team," said India vice-captain K L Rahul in the post-match press conference.
With another 10 months left for the ICC T20 World Cup, Pandya had indicated on Friday that bowling is something that he wants to do keeping long-term goals and big events in mind.
Pandya underwent a back surgery in October last year in the UK. His lower back had been troubling him since the Test series in England in 2018.
The surgery kept him out of action for almost a year, with the all-rounder last playing a T20 International against South Africa at home in September 2019.
After that, he missed the Tests against the same opposition, the home series against Bangladesh and the West Indies, a T20I series against Sri Lanka and ODIs against Australia at home, and the entire tour of New Zealand earlier this year.