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HindustanTimes Wed,01 Oct 2014

Cricket

India crush Australia by 9 wickets in record run chase
Sanjjeev K Samyal, Hindustan Times
Jaipur, October 16, 2013
First Published: 13:36 IST(16/10/2013)
Last Updated: 10:55 IST(17/10/2013)
Rohit Sharma celebrates his century during the 2nd ODI against Australia in Jaipur. (PTI Photo)

A total of 685 runs for six wickets - an average of more than hundred; 75 fours, 23 sixes; for the first time ever in a one-day international all the top five batsmen (Australia) scored half-centuries. And, it was India's highest successful chase ever, and the second highest of all time.

India powered to a sensational nine-wicket victory in the second ODI at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, chasing Australia's total of 359 in just 43.3 overs, but it raised a few questions, whether all is right with the game where the rules all loaded so heavily against the bowlers. The ball came so nicely on to the bat that the bowlers were reduced to hapless bowling machine.

Indian supporters weren't complaining though. They had their money's worth with Rohit Sharma (141 no, 123 balls), Shikhar Dhawan (95 off 85 balls) and Virat Kohli (100 no off 52 balls) - fastest century by an Indian, erasing Virender Sehwag's 60-ball effort - teaming together for a dream chase.

India's victory was remarkable for the pressure they handled.  Australia were on top after winning the opening game and put a massive total on board. It would have deflated any side.

India's flawless run chase, that saw them overhaul the target in just 43.3 overs, was split into two dazzling partnerships: Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma racked up 176 for the opening wicket in 26.1 overs, while Rohit and Virat Kohli knocked off the remaining 186 runs in only 17.2 overs. Amazingly, India won the match with 6.3 overs to spare. (Vipin Kumar/HT)

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No signs of nerves
Remarkably, the home team batsmen were steadfast. They didn't show any nerves, batted according to the situation and got the big partnerships which are key to big chases. After Dhawan and Rohit added 176, Kohli combined with Sharma for an unfinished 186-run stand.

For Rohit, his third hundred could not have come at a better time. Questions were being asked about his temperament and whether he will ever do justice to his talent. The way he shouldered responsibility showed he had matured. He was content to play second fiddle to Dhawan initially and battled cramp to stay put. Still, he provided entertainment with silken off-drives and bold pull shots.

Big let-off
The moment Australia will rue the most was dropping Dhawan when the total was 18. On a flat deck, he upset the rhythm of the pacers by repeatedly stepping out and driving. When they bowled short, he was ready with his swivel-pull shot.

He couldn't complete his hundred, but the platform had been set. Kohli simply waded into the bowling. He has played some attacking knocks, but none so savage. The 16th hundred of his career took just 52 balls, delivering the knock-out punch with seven hurricane sixes.

It eclipsed Australia's powerful batting display. Skipper George Bailey had led the way with a 50-ball unbeaten 92. Asked how his team would console themselves, Bailey shrugged: "Maybe, with a couple of beers."


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