Rohit lights a rocket!

Rohit Sharma (right) and Dhawal Kulkarni are two pleased Mumbaikars. While Rohit smashed the Lankan attack to smithereens, Dhawal prised out four Lankan batsmen with his medium pace.-PTI Rohit Sharma (right) and Dhawal Kulkarni are two pleased Mumbaikars. While Rohit smashed the Lankan attack to smithereens, Dhawal prised out four Lankan batsmen with his medium pace.

A simply outstanding innings by Rohit Sharma rendered the Kolkata ODI between India and Sri Lanka terribly one-sided. S. Sabanayakan reports.

Momentous it indeed was as Rohit Sharma smashed a world record 264 on his return to the Indian team after a two-month, injury-induced lay-off. The Eden Gardens was witness to this glorious knock as India made it four out of four in the Micromax Cup series against Sri Lanka.

In compiling this innings of sheer resolve and devotion, the 27-year-old Rohit emerged the first in the history of ODIs to score two double hundreds.

The 200 club is an exclusive place with only four such scores — made by three Indians — gracing it. Rohit is the precincts for the second time after his terrific 209 against Australia in Bengaluru last year. Virender Sehwag’s 219 was quietly pushed to the second place by Rohit’s 264 (173 balls, 33 fours, nine sixes).

Virat Kohli was in top gear when a misunderstanding with Rohit Sharma resulted in his being run out.-K. R. DEEPAK

An elated Rohit said later, “Getting two double hundreds was really special. Playing after two months from an injury layoff, I was feeling a little out of place in the middle. The stroke-making was not happening as naturally as it used to. I wanted to stick around in the middle and that required a lot of dedication and determination.

“I kept telling myself, no matter what, I need to stay there. Luckily, the quick-fire innings by (Ajinkya) Rahane really helped me settle down. I needed to stay there because I knew I could make up any time,” the new master blaster of Indian cricket summed up.

The Lankan new ball bowlers were on top in the initial overs and Rohit Sharma actually struggled to get his eye in. He hung on and saw two of his illustrious colleagues, both century-makers in this series, returning to the pavilion. And it was in his skipper Virat Kohli’s company, that Rohit prospered.

“I just wanted to make (my stay in the middle) count. I wanted to make this game a special one for me and Team India,” he said.

Rohit and Kohli added 202 runs for the third wicket in 25.5 overs and took the match away from the visitors. Rohit needed 72 balls to reach his first 50, but only 28 more to get to the second 50.

Kohli’s knock of 66 — he was a run out victim — paled in comparison to Rohit’s free-stroking style of play and the Mumbaikar brought up his third 50 in 25 balls.

The next 50 came off 26 deliveries and the final 50 off a mere 15! The Lankans did not know what hit them. En route to the world record, Rohit helped re-write two Eden Gardens ODI records — Gautam Gambhir’s individual knock of 150 and India’s total of 317.

Rohit also became the only player to have scored centuries in all three formats of the game at the Gardens. Add to this his 200 scored in a Ranji Trophy game five seasons ago, the venue is indeed a special one for this graceful batsman.

“This place is really special to me. I love playing here. I hope to create another record in future and do wonders for Team India here,” he gushed.

In his moment of joy, Rohit also recalled the pain and anxiety he had to undergo during the recovery period after the injury. “It was a very difficult two months. I would like to thank the BCCI physio, Vaibhav Daga, for getting me fit. It was a big challenge for both of us; he really worked hard and I am sure he will be a really happy man today,” Rohit said.

In the course of the innings, Rohit Sharma left many records shattered. Yet, like any other batsman, he was happy to bat for 50 overs. After putting on 128 runs with Robin Uthappa for the fifth wicket, and surviving a couple of chances in the latter part of his innings, he was taken at long-off trying to hoist the final ball of the innings.

Sri Lanka was left with a huge task in hand. Its batsmen tried to make a match of it, but with their confidence shattered and pride dented, they ended woefully short at 251 in 43.1 overs, which was 13 runs short of Rohit’s 264. India clinched the fourth match by 153 runs.

The visiting team’s captain, Angelo Mathews, admitted that it was embarrassing not being competitive enough in the past four games. “We need to fix our problems as soon as possible. We need to tune up in all the three departments,” he said about the team’s poor show. “We let off Rohit (Sharma) and it cost us the game,” he rued. “You can’t let go a brilliant player like him.”