Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Sharma became only the third cricketer to score an ODI double century
India opening batsman Rohit Sharma’s maiden ODI double century proved to be too much for James Faulkner, who smashed a magnificent century, and the rest of his Australian team-mates to handle.
Despite Faulkner’s valiant effort, India demolished Australia by 57 runs to win the decider and clinch the series 3-2.
Australia captain George Bailey won the toss and decided to bowl first.
However, he would have been regretting that decision as India’s opening pair of Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan registered a brilliant 112-run partnership, during which Dhawan brought up his half-century before being given out lbw off the bowling of Xavier Doherty for 60.
Dhawan’s cracking knock of 60 came off 57 balls and included nine boundaries.
Virat Kohli followed Dhawan back to the pavilion the very next over after he was run out for a duck due to some horrible communication by Sharma.
However, Sharma made up for it be bringing up his half-century during his 72-run partnership with Suresh Raina.
The partnership was ended when Raina was given out lbw for 28 to become Doherty’s second victim of the day.
Veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh failed to contribute with the bat once again as he could only amass 12 runs before being caught behind off the bowling of Faulkner.
Singh’s dismissal led to India’s game-changing partnership as Sharma and India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni recorded a 167-run partnership, during which Sharma passed the century, 150-run and double century mark, while Dhoni brought up his own half-century.
The partnership was finally ended when Sharma was caught out off the bowling of Clint McKay for a sparkling 209 off 158 balls, which included 12 boundaries and a record-breaking 16 sixes.
Sharma now holds the record for the second-highest ODI score and he also became the third cricketer in history to score a double century in ODIs with the previous two being Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
Sharma’s 209 was also the slowest out of the three double centuries as Sehwag’s 219 came at a strike rate of 146.97 and Tendulkar’s unbeaten 200 came at a strike rate of 136.05, while Sharma’s strike rate was 132.27.
The 26-year-old also hit the most sixes in an ODI innings, surpassing Australian all-rounder Shane Watson’s 15 maximums during his fantastic innings of 185 not out against Bangladesh in Mirpur in 2011.
Sharma also broke the record for the most runs scored in a bilateral ODI series with 491.
Dhoni finished undefeated on 62 off 38 deliveries, which included seven boundaries and two sixes, as India went on to post a mammoth total of 383 at the end of their 50 overs.
India smashed 115 runs off their last six overs, which is the most runs scored in the last six overs of an ODI between two Test-playing nations in the last ten years.
India also hammered 19 sixes during their innings, which is now the highest by any team in ODI history.
Doherty was the pick of the Australian bowlers with two wickets, while McKay and Faulkner chipped in with one wicket apiece.
McKay gave away 89 runs in his 10 overs with is the second-highest number of runs conceded by an Australian bowled after Mick Lewis gave away an astounding 113 runs in the infamous ODI against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2006.
With a target of 384 separating them from winning the series, Australia got off to a horrible start as opening batsman Aaron Finch was given out lbw for just five runs off the bowling of Mohammed Shami.
However, a 57-run partnership between Phillip Hughes and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin soon stabilised the innings until Hughes was caught out off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin for 23.
Bailey failed to make a contribution with the bat as he was run out for just four runs.
Haddin was the next to go as he was cleaned up by Ashwin for 40 runs.
Following the two quick dismissals, Glenn Maxwell and Adam Voges put together a 54-run partnership, during which Maxwell brought up his half-century in almost no time at all before Voges was clean bowled by Shami for just four runs.
Maxwell was dismissed soon after as he was caught out trying to play one big shot too many.
Maxwell’s entertaining innings of 60 came off just 22 balls and included three boundaries and an impressive seven sixes.
Maxwell’s half-century only took 18 balls, making it the second-fastest ODI half-century in history after Sri Lanka opening batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, who blitzed his way to a half-century off just 17 deliveries against Pakistan in Singapore in 1996.
Despite having tweaked his hamstring while bowling, Watson managed to blast 49 runs off 22 balls, which included two boundaries and six maximums before he was caught out off the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja.
After Watson was gone, Faulkner came alive and absolutely demolished the Indian bowlers.
He soon passed his half-century, but looked to show no signs of slowing down.
Dhoni looked extremely worried as Faulkner approached closer and closer to his maiden ODI century.
Faulkner eventually triumphed and registered his century before McKay was clean bowled by Jadeja for 18.
Faulkner and McKay recorded a 115-run partnership, which is now the highest ninth-wicket stand for Australia in ODIs.
With Australia drawing nearer and nearer to their target of 384, Faulkner tried to smash a rank full toss out of the ground, but only succeeded in having it brilliantly caught by Dhawan on the boundary.
Faulkner’s fabulous knock of 116 came off 73 balls and included 11 boundaries and an incredible six maximums.
Faulkner’s 116 is the third-highest score by a number seven batsman in ODIs after Dhoni, who smashed an unbeaten 139 against the Africa XI in Chennai in 2007, and South Africa pace bowler Shaun Pollock, who hammered 130 against the Asia XI in Bangalore in 2007.
Australia were bowled out for 326 with just under five overs remaining.
Jadeja and Shami were the most successful bowlers with three wickets apiece, while Ashwin snapped up two and Vinay Kumar picked up one.
Kumar gave away 102 runs in his 10 overs, which is the most runs conceded by an Indian bowler in ODI history.
Bailey praised his team for putting up an excellent fight and also congratulated Sharma on his cracking double century.
“We went pretty close there but outstanding innings from Rohit,” he said. “We were probably ahead at one point of time but didn’t have enough wickets. Faulkner and Maxwell played excellent cameos. We knew it would be tough they are the No. 1 and it’s been a wonderful series. Plenty of positives, the one-day cricket we were playing 18 months wasn’t great and we are certainly on track now.”
Dhoni was over the moon at having won the series, especially since India found themselves trailing on two separate occasions.
“There was a moment when we were under pressure after losing 2-3 quick wickets,” he said. “It became a little difficult and we wanted to sore 300 and explode from there. 383 wasn’t on our mind but Rohit batted very well. This ground has the reputation for batsmen hitting more sixes than fours, especially when you see Gayle and Virat batting in the IPL. It’s difficult to contain the batsmen here. Our Batting has been fantastic, openers have done very well but it would have been good if middle order got a few more runs. Apart form the one game, we scored in each and every game. We have to improve in bowling, something we wanted to do on a team level also. We have chased 350+ twice but nobody talks about the Australian bowling line-up. Fantastic series overall, Australia played very well and the wickets were good. the amount of crowd that came was fantastic.”
Sharma edged out the competition to be named Man of the Match and Man of the Series.
“I didn’t really think of the 200 initially,” he admitted. “Right from ball one I wanted to stay there. It was a small ground with a fast outfield, we knew it was going to be a big-scoring game keeping the wickets in hand. We always spoke about building small parnterhsips and we had two big ones today. It’s been our strength throughout the series so it was heartening to see that. You never know, even 380 wasn’t looking comfortable. Credit goes to Dhawan and Virat as well, they played very well throughout the series, we showed real character. I’m enjoying opening at the moment, just want to keep continuing and want to continue fresh. I’m looking forward to the West Indies series now and I didn’t know about the 16 sixes record.”