Everything was surreal about the seventh and final ODI – the decider -- of the high-scoring series between India and Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium at Bangalore on Saturday. There were countless sixes (a record number of them) and numerous fours as well. There was a two hundred from an Indian, two Australians came close to breaking the record for the fastest fifty in international cricket, one broke the record for the fastest hundred by an Australian, an Indian bowler ended up conceding over 100 runs, without having finished his quota of 10 overs, phew!
All these figures signify that the batsmen dominated the game, and the bowlers were merely there to make up the numbers. The match will be remembered for numerous reasons (only by the batsmen mind you!), but above all it will be recollected for the splendid effort by Rohit Sharma, who made batting look so easy that even Mahela Jayawardene’s strokes would have seemed laborious in comparison. In spite of the fact that he crossed 200, the innings shouldn’t be termed as his best since the conditions were unfairly in favour of the batsmen, but what Sharma demonstrated on the day was his unequivocal talent.
We have all known what Sharma is capable of over the years, but his innings on Saturday was special in every sense. Unlike the numbers suggest – 209 from 158 balls with 16 sixes – it wasn’t a breeze all the way for Sharma. After another bright start, India had lost Shikhar Dhawan to a half-century and Sharma then atrociously ran out Virat Kohli – the latter hadn’t even opened his account in the most crucial game of the series. The wickets had put India on the back foot, and the dismissal of Kohli would definitely have been playing on Sharma’s mind. However, this is where he displayed his newfound maturity.
Even as Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh came and went without making much of a contribution, Sharma hung on. He slowed down to an extent that fans and critics began to worry whether India would fall short of a match-winning total. But, little did anyone know what was in store. Once Sharma laboured past his hundred, he opened up like no one expected. The six-hitting that one witnessed was exceptional. The most striking aspect of Sharma’s batting was that he lofted the ball without trying to hit it too hard, and yet managed to clear the field the ease. Such was Sharma’s domination on the day that even Dhoni ended up playing second fiddle.
From Australia’s point of view, they would rue the fact that they did not have wickets in hand while chasing. They batted so incredibly well in the second part of their chase that had they played out the 50 overs, the series would have been theirs. But, while Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson smashed the ball to all parts of the ground, their knocks ended up being cameos. James Faulkner also came up with a magnificent ton, which kept Australia’s hopes alive, but having lost many wickets at the start, including that of their skipper George Bailey in a bizarre manner, they were always behind in the race.
--By A Cricket Analyst