India’s Rohit Sharma celebrates after scoring a double century against Australia in the seventh and final ODI at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore. India won the series 3-2.
BANGALORE: Rohit Sharma was always reckoned to be a special talent, and the rapturous Diwali holiday crowd marvelled at the pristine quality of his classy double century yesterday.
The knock virtually knocked the stuffing out of a flummoxed Australian team in the seventh and final ODI at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The 57-run win gave India a 3-2 series win though the massive and unexpected resistance from the Australian ninth wicket pair of James Faulkner (116) and Clint McKay (18) spread panic through the Indian ranks.
Their 115-run partnership in just 89 balls was a credit to the never-say-die spirit of the Australians, whose response to India’s mammoth 383 was rousing. Local lad Vinay Kumar (9-0-102-1) was taken to the cleaners, but Shami Ahmed, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja struck telling blows and made the difference.
Earlier, man of the match Rohit Sharma’s languid elegance was captivating and reassuring.
He used the cricket bat not like a bludgeon, but like an orchestra conductor’s baton. And when he is on song, like he was yesterday, there are few better sights in the game.
The Australians, who opted to field first, were bewildered when Rohit suddenly switched to overdrive. Till then they must have been reasonably satisfied with the way the decider was going.
They had India pegged back at 250 for four at the start of the 43rd over and must have fancied chasing a target around 300 runs. It was at this stage that Rohit Sharma decided to switch to a higher gear.
Fours and sixes were sprayed into the stands with the relentless consistency of machine-gun fire as the final eight overs yielded a mind boggling 133 runs. It was an astounding demonstration of classy power-hitting. There was plenty of finesse and grace in the execution.
Crowd favourite Virat Kohli was unfortunately run out without troubling the scorers while Suresh Raina (28) and Yuvraj Singh (12) were unconvincing after Rohit and southpaw Shikhar Dhawan (60; 57b, 9x4) had given the team a head start.
Rohit’s running between the wickets was not reassuring even with Dhawan. However the openers put bat to ball in telling style and their 112-run first wicket stand in 19 overs was just the launch pad the home team needed in the decider.
But with Kohli, Raina and Yuvraj falling cheaply, India at 207 for four in the 34th over were not really on top of the game. It was then that the wily Indian skipper MS Dhoni and a calculating Rohit chose to bide their time and keep the scoreboard ticking over without taking any risk.
They weathered the Australian fight back over the next six overs before the stunning counter-attack floored the men from Down Under.
Rohit slammed 12 boundaries and 16 gigantic sixes in his knock of 209 (158 balls) while Dhoni was run out off the final delivery (62 in 38 balls, 7x4, 2x6).
Rohit Sharma joins compatriots Virendra Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, the only other two batsman, who have hit double centuries in the shorter version of the game.
Sehwag scored 219 against West Indies and Tendulkar (200) against south Africa.
But the match was ultimately all about Rohit Sharma. And for an Australian team seeking redemption there was the depressing realisation that in this Indian team if Kohli doesn’t get them, Rohit will.Agencies