Image courtesy of: Hindustan Times
Sharma and Kohli helped India pull off the second-highest run chase in ODI history
India opening batsman Rohit Sharma played the innings of his life as he and Virat Kohli pulled off the country’s highest ODI chase of 360 against Australia in a dramatic high-scoring affair in Jaipur.
Sharma and Kohli both smashed centuries, while Shikhar Dhawan hammered 95 runs, as the men in blue went on to stun Australia, who equalled their highest ODI score against India.
Australia captain George Bailey won the toss and elected to bat first, which was not an issue for India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni as he would have chosen to bowl first.
Bailey’s decision looked to be the right one as Australia’s opening pair of Aaron Finch and Phillip Hughes put together a 74-run partnership, during which Finch brought up his half-century, before he was run out by Suresh Raina.
Finch scored 50 runs off 53 balls, which included seven boundaries and a six.
Hughes and Shane Watson kept the scoreboard ticking with a 108-run partnership, during which both batsmen registered their half-centuries, before Watson was caught out off the bowling of Vinay Kumar for 59 off 53 deliveries, which included six boundaries and three sixes.
Hughes was the next to go as he was caught behind off the bowling of spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for 83 off 103 balls, which included eight boundaries and a six.
However, the fireworks didn’t stop there as Bailey and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell recorded a 96-run partnership, during which Maxwell brought up his half-century, before being run out for 53 off just 32 deliveries, which included seven boundaries and a six.
Bailey propelled Australia to a mammoth score of 359 as he finished unbeaten on 92 off only 50 balls, which included eight boundaries and an incredible five maximums.
Australia’s innings went down in history books due to the fact that their top five batsmen all scored half-centuries, which is a feat that has never been accomplished in an ODI before.
Vinay Kumar was the pick of the Indian bowlers with two wickets, while Ashwin chipped in with one.
Chasing a near-impossible 360 runs to tie the seven-match ODI series at 1-1, India got off to a perfect start as their opening pair of Sharma and Dhawan registered a magnificent 176-run partnership, during which both batsmen recorded their half-centuries, before Dhawan was caught behind off the bowling of James Faulkner for an agonising 95, which came off 86 balls and included 14 boundaries.
The 176-run stand between Sharma and Dhawan is now their highest as they breezed past the 127-run partnership they put together against South Africa during the Champions Trophy in June.
Sharma and Dhawan’s partnership is also India’s largest opening stand against Australia, with the previous record of 175 between Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar coming in Kanpur in 1998.
While Australia would have been relieved to end India’s massive opening partnership, they had to endure a second round of punishment as Sharma and Kohli put on a brilliant show for all those in attendance.
Sharma and Kohli put together an unbeaten 186-run partnership, during which both batsmen registered their centuries as India eased over the finish line with 39 balls to spare.
Sharma finished unbeaten on 141 off 123 balls, which included 17 boundaries and four sixes, while Kohli remained undefeated on 100 off 52 deliveries, which included eight boundaries and an outstanding seven maximums.
The pair’s 186-run stand was the third-highest partnership against Australia, with only Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman’s 199 in Indore in 2001 and their 190-run stand in Gwalior in 2003 being worth more.
Sharma recorded his highest ODI score, easily beating his previous best of 114 against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo in 2010.
Kohli’s ton was the fastest ODI century scored by an Indian, beating Virender Sehwag’s 60-ball hundred against New Zealand in Hamilton in 2009.
Kohli’s blistering hundred was also the fastest against Australia, beating New Zealand batsman Craig McMillan’s 67-ball century in Hamilton in 2007.
It was also the seventh fastest century in ODI history and the fourth fastest by an Asian batsman.
India’s win now marks the second-highest successful ODI run-chase in history, only behind the infamous 438 scored by South Africa, ironically against Australia as well, in 2006.
Faulkner was the only bowler to pick up a wicket as he, Watson and Maxwell all recorded their worst economy rates of their ODI careers.
Faulkner’s economy rate was 8.57, Watson’s was 9.40, while Maxwell’s finished with 8.72.
Bailey was in absolute shock over how easily India had managed to chase down his side’s total of 359.
“I don’t know, I am not sure what to feel at the moment,” he said. “Obviously, it was some awesome batting. They did it pretty comfortably in the end. Everything we tried the ball seemed to go further and harder. You think the pitch is a beauty? [chuckles]. There are always things you can do differently, but there are no second chances.”
Dhoni noted that this was one of the best batting performances anyone could have hoped to see as both India and Australia crossed the 350-run mark, which is extremely rare for an ODI.
“I think this is one of the best you can see, irrespective of the field restrictions and the pitch, it was still a tall chase,” he said. “I told them not to look at the target and just go and play. Shikhar batted very well, Kohli was amazing, Rohit got a big knock. It was an ideal pitch, fast outfield, but you need to keep the shape as a batsman, that’s what they did well. Our batting is looking good, but it’s unfair to assume the batsmen are going to chase a 300+ target everytime. Most of our guys have played international cricket, but most of them don’t have the experience of a Yuvraj Singh who has played over 250 matches, what you have to do is to be aggressive, but what is important is that you don’t have to slog, you have to maintain good shape. Bowling, we need to improve. The reason is that if you attempt a yorker and it becomes a low full toss, it’s fine, but if it becomes a waist-high full toss, then the margin is too much. It’s one area we are looking to improve.”
Sharma nudged out Kohli to claim the Man of the Match award, and he said: “It was very important for me to play the big innings. It took a long time coming, but I would like to say that the hardwork never stopped. I wanted to bat throughout the innings, I agree that I have played some stupid shots to get out, but this was much needed. Both Shikhar and I understood the pitch and managed the chase, and Virat came and played a strong innings and his innings needs a mention as much as any.”