Of average build, there is no use of brute force in Rohit Sharma’s strokes. He is of the silken touch; the ones who depend on timing. That regal quality was on full display at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday night.
Sharma lit the stadium up with a show of six-hitting never seen before in a one-day game. Sending the holiday crowd into bouts of frenzy, the opener smashed a world-record 16 sixes during his hurricane double hundred. Powered by Sharma’s super-show, India clinched the seventh one-dayer by 57 runs to win their first full series against Australia at home.
It was not a convincing win though. Set a mammoth target of 384, James Faulkner had the Indian players’ and supporters hearts in their mouths with a nerveless counter-attacking hundred.
From 211 for eight, Faulkner single-handedly took the fight to the Men in Blue with his ninth-wicket partnership of 115 (89 balls) with Clint McKay. With 58 needed off 30 balls, Ravindra Jadeja got the breakthrough by clean-bowling McKay. Faulkner was out next ball, trying a big hit, for a valiant 116 (73 balls).
Batsman Rohit Sharma celebrates his double ton against Australia during the final ODI cricket match at M Chinnaswami Stadium in Bangalore. (Mohd Zakir/HT)
Earlier, Sharma’s day had not exactly started on a bright note. Having been involved in the run-out of the local IPL hero, Virat Kohli, for a duck, Sharma had upset the home supporters.
An extraordinary effort was needed to win back the support. To his credit, he produced just that, more than compensating the fans with a show of scintillating strokeplay as he became the third batsman in history to score an ODI double hundred (209 off 156 balls).
He surpassed Sachin Tendulkar's 200 not out and had Virender Sehwag’s highest score of 219 also in his reach, but was out with three balls left of play.
Sharma has been on record saying that he has the confidence in his ability to clear the ropes at will. It helps him pace his innings and that ability was to the fore here.
Saturday was an innings of three distinct phases. He was content to play second fiddle when his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan. He shifted gears at the right time. His fifty came off 71 balls and after Dhawan’s fall, he accelerated to 85 off 87. The progress from 90s was at a snail’s pace with nine dot balls from 95 to 100. The Australians gave away only 22 runs in the batting powerplay (36 to 40 overs) to M S Dhoni and Sharma.
It was a lull before the storm with the opener saving the real fireworks for the last. He went from 100 to 200 in 42 balls after his first hundred had come off 114.
Sharma hit nine sixes in the last 10 overs as he just took off. Along with Dhoni, he went on to plunder 167 off 94 balls for the fifth wicket, 101 runs coming in the last five overs.
The Australians had brought it upon themselves by dropping Sharma on 120. Had they got Sharma out even then, India might have struggled to post a total which would have tested them.