Rohit on the rampage

The jubilant Indian team after winning the ODI series 3-2.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

It was yet another run feast in the ODI series, with a double hundred to boot for Rohit Sharma in Bangalore. Shreedutta Chidananda reports.

It was only in the fitness of things that a series overstuffed with runs wound down the way it did. Diwali night in Bangalore was about Rohit Sharma and his double hundred, but it was also another contest on the same theme as the rest of the tournament. Australia struck and flailed at India’s 383, but India won relatively comfortably in the end to take the seven-match series 3-2.

In 102 one-day matches ahead of the series, Rohit had only two hundreds to call his own; now, he has two in six innings, including only the third double century in the format’s history.

“When I was batting, I didn’t think that I must score 200. I wanted to make a big score. When I got to around 180, I thought it was possible. But I didn’t play for 200; I played my shots because the team total was important at that time,” he said later.

More impressive than his shot-making and his record 16 sixes, was the manner in which he paced his innings. His fifty took 71 balls; the next 150 runs needed 85.

If he felt any guilt over his role in Virat Kohli’s run-out, Rohit compensated amply for it. He went after Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell just after Kohli’s exit, when Australia had begun tightening the screws and felt it could draw a few quiet overs out of its part-timer.

“That’s how I play my innings. If you look at the whole series, even in Jaipur I took time to build my innings. That is my game plan. This small ground and the new five-fielder rule obviously make it a little easier for the batsmen to play their shots. Today was an ideal innings. I waited for the opportunity to play my shots and in the end, it came out really well,” he said.

Rohit Sharma sends one over the rope. He came up with a record 16 sixes in the match.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Australia bowled poorly — there is no masking it — but Rohit struck everything in range, driving well and clearing the ropes comfortably every time he attempted. There was the one chance on the boundary he gave Moises Henriques on 120, but the fielder let the ball slip through his fingers.

From his last 22 matches, since his promotion as opener, he averages near 60 — against a career average of 37.

“It was an extraordinary innings,” the Australian captain George Bailey remarked later. “He has had a wonderful series. He is obviously flourishing at the top of the order. He would certainly be in the mix for the spot that will open up after the great man (Sachin Tendulkar) departs in a couple of Tests.”

At first, Australia replied as if under the influence of a heavy soporific. It was only the arrival of Glenn Maxwell that enlivened things. The 25-year-old is a remarkably pleasant striker of the ball. Where Adam Voges struggled to get bat on ball, Maxwell sent it into the stands with alarming regularity, racking up the second-fastest half-century for an Australian.

James Faulkner — a cricketer described by the Australian chairman of selectors John Inverarity as someone who “gets things done” — struck his first hundred as India let things drift. But with few wickets in hand, things did not get too hairy for the home side.

The only sour points on the night were the exchanges between players from opposite sides. An injured Shane Watson’s limp was seemingly mocked by Shikhar Dhawan while Kohli and Faulkner came together. “Yeah he is pretty animated; isn't he?” Bailey said of Dhawan later. “He is obviously passionate about how he goes about it. There is a lot riding on the line. But there is a fine line there, I guess. Sometimes the art of winning is as hard to learn as the art of losing.”

The match also served up the second-most runs from boundaries seen in any ODI (464). Bailey put it well as another fixture brought inflated totals. “The challenge is how do you talk to your bowlers?” he asked. “How do you work out who has bowled well? How do you work out who has done their job? Until we get more feedback on how many of these scores get chased down and how many times teams get these scores, it is going to be hard to actually work out what is par.”

THE SCORES

Seventh ODI, India v Australia, Bangalore, November 2, 2013. India won by 57 runs.

India: Rohit Sharma c sub b McKay 209; S. Dhawan lbw b Doherty 60; V. Kohli (run out) 0; S. Raina lbw b Doherty 28; Yuvraj Singh c Haddin b Faulkner 12; M. Dhoni (run out) 62; R. Jadeja (not out) 0; Extras (lb-5, w-7) 12. Total (for six wkts., in 50 overs) 383.

Fall of wickets: 1-112, 2-113, 3-185, 4-207, 5-374, 6-383.

Australia bowling: McKay 10-0-89-1; Coulter-Nile 10-0-80-0; Faulkner 10-0-75-1; Watson 5-0-26-0; Doherty 10-0-74-2; Maxwell 4-0-32-0; Finch 1-0-2-0.

Australia: A. Finch lbw b Shami 5; P. Hughes c Yuvraj b Ashwin 23; B. Haddin b Ashwin 40; G. Bailey (run out) 4; A. Voges b Shami 4; G. Maxwell c Jadeja b Vinay Kumar 60; J. Faulkner c Dhawan b Shami 116; S. Watson c Shami b Jadeja 49; N. Coulter-Nile c Kohli b Jadeja 3; C. McKay b Jadeja 18; X. Doherty (not out) 0; Extras (lb-1, w-2, nb-1) 4. Total (in 45.1 overs): 326.

Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-64, 3-70, 4-74, 5-132, 6-138, 7-205, 8-211, 9-326.

India bowling: B. Kumar 8-1-47-0; Shami 8.1-0-52-3; Vinay Kumar 9-0-102-1; Ashwin 10-0-51-2; Jadeja 10-0-73-3.