They are the torch-bearers of Mumbai’s rich legacy of batsmanship. Still, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane are different kinds of batsmen. While the ODI vice-captain likes to impose himself on the opponent with his audacious strokeplay, the Test vice-captain prefers to grind and coerce the contestant into waving a white flag.
When the two Mumbaikars are on song, the duo makes the job much easier for the their team-mates. For the third time in succession, they sizzled at the top, thus resulting in India making a meat of a target of 242 set by Australia in the last of the five ODIs.
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Thanks to Sharma’s unbeaten hundred and his twin partnerships with Rahane and skipper Virat Kohli at the Vidarbha Cricket Association’s stadium at Jamtha, India overhauled the target with a whopping 7.1 overs to spare.
Had it not been for an emergency in Shikhar Dhawan's family, the Mumbai duo may not have combined at the top of the order in the series. Once they got an opportunity, they first set up India's chase of 294 in Indore with a stand of 139 in 21.4 overs, followed it up with 106-run partnership in 18.2 overs in Bengaluru and killed the contest with a 124-run association in a little over 22 overs to ensure India catapulting to the top of the ICC rankings with a 4-1 scoreline.
While Sharma started cautiously, Rahane got into action right away, flicking Pat Cummins in the opening over and punching the bowler straight behind him in his next over. Sharma, meanwhile, started getting impatient and was even fortunate as an inside-edge onto his pads lobbed in the air but fell short of the bowler running in. However, once he opened his account with a straight drive off Cummins off the 15th ball he faced, he got into his groove.
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Then on, till a tired swat off leggie Adam Zampa landed in Nathan Coulter-Nile’s palm deep on the on-side with the target just 20 runs away. With the pacers hardly bowling short to him early, Sharma drove with panache. And once the spin of Adam Zampa was introduced, Sharma opened his arms without any fuss.
Once he lost Rahane, who missed a flick off Coulter-Nile and was rapped in front of the wickets in the 23rd over, with captain Kohli playing the second fiddle, Sharma changed the gears swiftly. With a little bit of discomfort in his right leg, primarily thanks to the sweltering heat, Sharma preferred to unleash his aerial artistry. It was indeed fitting that he raised his 14th ODI hundred with a trademark pull off Cummins that sailed over the mid-wicket fence. In the bowler's previous over, Sharma had become the ninth India batsman to cross 6,000 runs with a single.
While the Australians saw Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey completing the formalities, the visitors would be ruing the lack of either of its opening batsmen to repeat the heroics of Sharma and Rahane.
After electing to bat, David Warner and Aaron Finch cruised to 60 at the end of the 10-over Powerplay. However, Finch committed a mistake of first-change bowler, Hardik Pandya, to give India a breakthrough in the 12th over.
Sensing the lack of bounce in the pitch, Kohli introduced part-timer Kedar Jadhav in the 14th over.
And the offie delivered yet again, by tightening the noose around the Aussie batsmen by bowling his 10 overs on a trot and also earning the vital wicket of Smith. Australia yet again slid in the midde overs, losing four wickets for 79 runs in the 20 overs after the Powerplay. Despite Travis Head and Marcus Stoinis starting a recovery, neither of them could tackle the tight bowling of Axar Patel's accurate spin and Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar's devastating death bowling to leave the visitors with a below-par total.
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