The selection looked unfair to Ajinkya Rahane at the start, but what was a desperate move was turned into an inspired choice by Rohit Sharma. The youngster who exemplifies wasted talent gave a rousing start and Suresh Raina finished the job to hand India a five-wicket victory in the fourth one-dayer against England that sealed the series with a game left on Wednesday.
One crucial statistic when he was on 22, told Rohit’s tale, he had completed 2,000 career runs. But it also showed why the Mumbai batsman is fast moving to the fringes of the national team.
While the 25-year-old reached that mark in his 82nd innings, his partner at that stage, Virat Kohli, had scored double the runs in 93 innings, in the Ranchi win. That bluntly screamed that consistency and discipline make all the difference.
England had adopted a scoring relay with fifties from skipper Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and young Joe Root taking them to a challenging 257 for seven after they were asked to bat first by MS Dhoni and made to tackle seam movement that was there through the innings on the winter day.
In the end, Raina, who dropped one of the two catches put down off Joe Root and saw wickets fall at the other end, did the finishing job well. He was ‘caught’ off Steve Finn but it was declared a dead ball because the paceman had disturbed the bails in his delivery stride.
It was just the luck a team needed on a day when both sides dropped catches and the umpires once again embarrassed themselves.
England have risen and fallen with Cook in India. On Wednesday, he was in brilliant touch when he was beaten by R Ashwin’s off-break. Asnani upheld the appeal but the ball had clearly pitched outside leg stump.
After the break, umpire Steve Davis did Gautam Gambhir in as Rohit led the chase. Looking far more assured, the left-hander was stunned when he chased and missed a wide ball from Tim Bresnan but was given out. The Aussie also brought Rohit’s brilliant knock to an end with 100 more to get, giving him leg before although Finn’s delivery had nipped back and would have gone well down the leg side.
Rohit’s previous innings were 5, 0, 0, 4, 4 and 4, the last in the first ODI against Pakistan that forced him out of the eleven.
Rohit had opened only thrice in the past, in South Africa in January 2011. The result was 23, 1 and 5. But he cashed in and had lot of time to play his shots against the pacers and his footwork was pleasing against spin. He was lucky on 12 when Pietersen dropped a tough chance at mid-off off Bresnan.
After adding 68 for the fourth wicket off just 51 balls with Rohit, Raina calmly steered the innings despite wickets falling at the other end.
Only off-spinner James Tredwell troubled the batsmen as the pitch played well in the evening. He removed Virat and dismissed Yuvraj Singh for the fourth time in the series.