Faulkner, Maxwell and Watson put up frantic flickers of resistance but to no avail

Sivakasi is famous for producing India’s best firecrackers, but on a rousing Diwali night here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Rohit Sharma’s flurry of sixes overshadowed the brightest that the Tamil Nadu town can possibly offer.

Rohit’s 209 (158b, 12x4, 16x6) — the third double-century in the history of One Day Internationals, with the other two members in the august club being Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag — proclaimed India’s superiority over Australia.

With the 57-run victory, the hosts clinched the seven-match series 3-2.

Pursuing India’s 383 for six, Australia scored 326, with James Faulkner’s maiden ODI ton (116) along with Glenn Maxwell’s (60) and Shane Watson’s (49) fast-paced innings being frantic flickers of resistance against a home attack that survived the counter-attack.

Faulkner, dropped on 20 by Mohammad Shami, threatened to extend the contest, and R. Vinay Kumar, who went for 102 off nine overs, bore the brunt of his ebullience. In all this carnage, R. Ashwin’s figures read a creditable 10-0-51-2.

In the afternoon, Australia, preferring to field on winning the toss, ran into another century-partnership (112) between openers Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan.

The duo’s third 100-plus alliance — after the 176 at Jaipur and the 178 in Nagpur — in this series had Dhawan’s boundaries as the exclamation marks while Rohit was relatively sedate.

It was the proverbial calm before the storm, and as a hint to what lay in store, Rohit hoisted Faulkner over long-off for six. There was ease and disdain in that shot, and the Mumbaikar was on course.

A 28-minute stoppage due to rain was an unwelcome pause, and on resumption, India stuttered as left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty trapped Dhawan. Then, Rohit caused Virat Kohli’s run-out as he stared at the fielder and belatedly spurned the latter’s call for a sharp-single.

From 112 for two in 19.5 overs, India moved cautiously, and Suresh Raina’s cameo provided mortar for Rohit to brace himself against and construct his own innings.

The period was marked by his defence, as well as the five sixes that left Doherty and Maxwell gazing at the disappearing ball.

Australia found minor relief in the dismissals of Raina and Yuvraj Singh, who was brilliantly caught left-handed by wicket-keeper Brad Haddin.

Meanwhile, Rohit, in the company of Dhoni, moved from 95 to 99. The scoreboard weirdly proclaimed, ‘congrats Rohit 99 n.o.,’ and the batsman froze on three dot-balls before he reached his fourth ODI ton — 101 of 114 balls — swivelled around, looked at the pavilion, swung his bat and exulted.

That moment proved to be the turning point.

After scoring heavily straight down the ground, Rohit moved away from his stumps, created width and lofted Clint McKay over sweeper-cover. A few overs later, he moved a wee-bit across and flicked the seamer high over backward square-leg.

Incidentally, in the mountain of statistics dotted with sixes, not a single ugly shot was played. Rohit’s 16 sixes also topped the previous record of 15 set by Shane Watson against Bangladesh in 2011.

Dropped on 120 by Moises Henriques, who was substituting for an injured Watson, Rohit galloped from 100 to 200 in 42 balls and his 167-run fifth-wicket partnership with Dhoni (62), ensured that India had built a peak that was impossible to scale despite Australia’s strong rear-guard action orchestrated by Faulkner.

The match witnessed 38 sixes — a new record in ODIs, eclipsing the previous-best of 31 in a game between India and New Zealand at Christchurch in 2009.

Scoreboard

India: Rohit Sharma c Henriques b McKay 209 (158b, 12x4, 16x6), Shikhar Dhawan lbw b Doherty 60 (57b, 9x4), Virat Kohli run out 0 (3b), Suresh Raina lbw b Doherty 28 (30b, 2x4), Yuvraj Singh c Haddin b Faulkner 12 (14b, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni run out 62 (38b, 7x4, 2x6), Ravindra Jadeja (not out) 0 (0b), Extras (lb-5, w-7): 12; Total (for six wkts., in 50 overs): 383.

Fall of wickets: 1-112 (Dhawan), 2-113 (Kohli), 3-185 (Raina), 4-207 (Yuvraj), 5-374 (Rohit), 6-383 (Dhoni).

Australia bowling: Clint McKay 10-0-89-1, Nathan Coulter-Nile 10-0-80-0, James Faulkner 10-0-75-1, Shane Watson 5-0-26-0, Xavier Doherty 10-0-74-2, Glenn Maxwell 4-0-32-0, Aaron Finch 1-0-2-0.

Australia: Aaron Finch lbw b Shami 5 (5b, 1x4), Phillip Hughes c Yuvraj b Ashwin 23 (33b, 2x4), Brad Haddin b Ashwin 40 (49b, 7x4), George Bailey (run out) 4 (12b), Adam Voges b Shami 4 (14b), Glenn Maxwell c Jadeja b Vinay 60 (22b, 3x4, 7x6), James Faulkner c Dhawan b Shami 116 (73b, 11x4, 6x6), Shane Watson c Shami b Jadeja 49 (22b, 2x4, 6x6), Nathan Coulter-Nile c Kohli b Jadeja 3 (5b), Clint McKay b Jadeja 18 (37b, 3x4), Xavier Doherty (not out) 0 (0b), Extras (lb-1, nb-1, w-2) 4; Total (in 45.1 overs): 326.

Fall of wickets: 1-7 (Finch), 2-64 (Hughes), 3-70 (Bailey), 4-74 (Haddin), 5-132 (Voges), 6-138 (Maxwell), 7-205 (Watson), 8-211 (Coulter-Nile), 9-326 (McKay).

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 8-1-47-0, Mohammad Shami 8.1-0-52-3, R. Vinay Kumar 9-0-102-1, R. Ashwin 10-0-51-2, Ravindra Jadeja 10-0-73-3.

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