Rohit Sharma stepped into a realm few can hope to enter. His third One-Day International double hundred was a clinical exhibition of punishing batsmanship by a man under pressure to perform. He had lost his first match as captain, failed as a batsman, and had critics breathing down his neck. But one magical knock changed all that.
It was cold and gloomy at the PCA Stadium when the toss for the second ODI was taken on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka rightly opted to field and it was the only aspect of the game that went in its favour. Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan put the attack to the sword and India ended up with a total of 392. Despite an unbeaten 111 by Angelo Mathews, it was beyond Sri Lanka’s reach and India was home by 141 runs.
For Shreyas Iyer too there was much to take home from this contest even though he fell 12 short of a century in only his second ODI. His 213-run second-wicket stand with Rohit, after Dhawan was involved in a 115-run opening partnership, wounded Sri Lanka gravely.
The match was nothing but Rohit’s majestic demonstration of innovation at the crease. He was robust in belting the ball and sublime with his silken drives. He picked the pace with the ease of a master and feasted on the ball, short-pitched or over-pitched. The length made no difference.
The Sri Lankan attack was an apology for an international match. Not because it was mauled by Rohit but for the shocking lack of discipline and commitment that a bowler brings to his work when confronted with a batsman on rampage. Rohit was unstoppable but then Sri Lanka played into his hands by feeding him scoring opportunities. The Indian captain was not one to waste such generous offerings.
Rohit’s forte is the ample time he has to play strokes. He also can’t be restricted because of his range of shots. He read the bowlers’ mind and was in a position to decimate the ball. It was as if the Sri Lankans gave up the contest once they saw Rohit produce excellent footwork to cart the ball with ease.
The Sri Lankans were hit by an avalanche and it was hard to imagine that this bunch had humiliated India a few days ago at Dharamshala. The ghosts of the hills were exorcised in the plains.
Rohit, Dhawan and Shreyas took the attack by the scruff and left the audience satiated in its demands for pyrotechnics. There were plenty of cricketing shots as also a flurry of cross-batted heaves that showed Rohit in complete control. Sri Lanka erred by adopting desperate measures. The yorkers ended up as full tosses and the slower ones were smilingly put away by Rohit and Shreyas.
Rohit has long been chastised as a batsman who does not put a value to his wicket. He has struggled to come out of his own shadow and the image of a batsman who takes things and his place in the side for granted.
His awesome potential, unexplored in Tests but so creative in the shorter versions, appeals to the purist and the layman alike. And on Wednesday, Rohit played one of the most destructive innings in contemporary cricket.
India became the first team to notch up a century of 300+ scores in One-Day Internationals
Rohit is the third batsman, after Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, to score six or more ODI hundreds in a calendar year.
Scoreboard India vs Sri Lanka, second ODI
India: Rohit (not out) 208 (153b, 13×4, 12×6), S. Dhawan c Thirimanne b Pathirana 68 (67b, 9×4), Shreyas c sub b Perera 88 (70b, 9×4, 2×6), M.S. Dhoni lbw b Perera 7 (5b, 1×6), Hardik c Thirimanne b Perera 8 (5b, 1×4); Extras (b-1, lb-1, w-11): 13; Total (for four wkts in 50 overs): 392.
Fall of wickets: 1-115 (Dhawan, 21.1 overs), 2-328 (Shreyas, 45.3), 3-354 (Dhoni, 47.3), 4-392 (Hardik, 49.6).
Sri Lanka bowling: Mathews 4-1-9-0, Lakmal 8-0-71-0, Perera 8-0-80-3, Pradeep 10-0-106-0, Dananjaya 10-0-51-0, Pathirana 9-0-63-1, Gunaratne 1-0-10-0.
Sri Lanka: D. Gunathilaka c Dhoni b Bumrah 16 (19b, 1×4), U. Tharanga c Karthik b Hardik 7 (14b, 1×4), L. Thirimanne b Washington 21 (35b, 1×4), A. Mathews (not out) 111 (132b, 9×4, 3×6), N. Dickwella c Washington b Chahal 22 (20b, 4×4), A. Gunaratne st Dhoni b Chahal 34 (30b, 5×4), T. Perera c Dhoni b Chahal 5 (3b, 1×4), S. Pathirana c Dhawan b Bhuvneshwar 2 (8b), A. Dananjaya c Rohit b Bumrah 11 (17b, 2×4), S. Lakmal (not out) 11 (22b); Extras (lb-2, w-9): 11; Total (for eight wkts in 50 overs): 251.
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Tharanga, 3.5), 2-30 (Gunathilaka, 7.3), 3-62 (Thirimanne, 15.3), 4-115 (Dickwella, 22.4), 5-159 (Gunaratne, 30.2), 6-166 (Perera, 30.6), 7-180 (Pathirana, 33.5), 8-207 (Dananjaya, 40.5).
India bowling: Bhuvneshwar 9-0-40-1, Hardik 10-0-39-1, Bumrah 10-0-43-2, Washington 10-0-65-1, Chahal 10-0-60-3, Shreyas 1-0-2-0.
(Courtesy The Hindu)