India vs West Indies: Rohit and the Brabourne romance

In the 4th ODI on Monday, India opener Rohit Sharma overtook Sachin Tendulkar to reach the second spot in the list of batsmen who hit most sixes in an ODI.

Rohit Sharma in action against Windies at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Monday.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

Every time Rohit Sharma walks into the Cricket Club of India’s Brabourne Stadium, he makes his presence felt. The venue has been close to the batsman’s heart.

Back in 2007, he was the first Indian cricketer to score a T20 century against Gujarat in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy fixture here. A couple of years later, in 2009, Sharma hammered his maiden first-class triple century against Gujarat in a Ranji Trophy fixture at the same venue. That knock of 309 not only helped Sharma stamp his class, it also got him noticed in the longer format of the game.

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The love affair with the ground continued on Monday as he hammered a solid knock of 162 against Windies to help India put up a mammoth total of 377-5 in the crucial fourth ODI. With the series open at 1-1, it was important for India to get off to a good start and opening the innings, the Mumbai boy ensured that he took charge.

While he had a go at the Windies bowlers on a flat deck, Sharma also became the fourth fastest cricketer to score the 21st international ton (in 186 innings), falling behind Hashim Amla, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.

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Sharma also surpassed Sachin Tendulkar, becoming the second in the list to hit most sixes in ODIs for India. While Mahendra Singh Dhoni tops the list with 211 sixes, Sharma is at 196 — one more than Tendulkar.

As records tumbled one after the other, the crowd made it a point to cheer for the home boy. There were moments when the other opener, Shikhar Dhawan, would hit a six, but the crowd would chant Sharma’s name.

Crafting his innings with 20 boundaries and four sixes, Sharma also became the second player to hit two 150-plus scores in an ODI series after Hamilton Masakadza did a similar thing against Kenya at home in 2009. In the first ODI in Guwahati, Sharma had played an unbeaten knock of 152.

In the post-innings chat with the broadcaster, Sharma even admitted that having grown up in Mumbai, he is used to the surface at the CCI, and that helped. “I have grown up playing cricket in Mumbai and more so in CCI. I understand the pace and bounce here, and you should use it to your advantage. Once you do that you get value for yours shots. I was trying to not hit it too hard, just maintain my shape throughout my innings,” Sharma said.

Every cricketer has a lucky venue and for the Mumbai cricketer, Brabourne Stadium remains special.