India’s awesome batting lit up the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on a brilliant night as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan buried the Australian attack with momentous performances that set up a memorable nine-wicket victory in the second ODI of the seven-match series.
The pedestrian show by the Indian bowlers, who had earlier conceded 359 runs, was joyfully forgotten in the flush of an exhilarating victory that had its roots in some superb work by the openers.
In accepting the challenge and crafting a well-paced chase, the Indians added a new chapter to their storied list of batting exploits.
The triumph was shaped hugely by Kohli’s 16th ODI century, the fastest by an Indian — Kohli took ten balls fewer than Mohammad Azharuddin who brought up his in 62 deliveries against New Zealand in 1988.
There challenge posed by the pitch — or the Aussie attack — was negligible, but the target was intimidating. Rohit, who hit his third ODI century, and Dhawan decimated the Aussies hopes with an amazing assault.
Dhawan, reprieved on 18 by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin who grassed the skier off Clint McKay, rekindled some memories of his Test debut at Mohali, when timing and his wide range of strokes took the wind out of Australia’s sails.
After the ‘life’, Dhawan tore into the attack. So did Rohit, with a controlled charge initially and then with a flurry of shots that showed his character when faced with pressure. There was pressure, no doubt, but Dhawan and Rohit left nothing to chance and blazed their way to glory.
Australia was flattened by Rohit’s innovative dominance, some of his piercing shots leaving the field standing. He grew in stature over the course of the innings, even as Kohli played his part to perfection as India scaled the peak of 360 to win — the same target it was confronted with in the 2003 World Cup final.
But, then, that was a different Australia. This team is a mere shadow of it.
It was a pity that the sections either side of the pavilion featured a sizeable number of empty seats. This certainly was not a performance to be missed for fans of this youthful team.
India was ragged and indolent when it bowled, and short of confidence too, as Australia packed punch and purpose in its batting.
Having elected to bat, captain George Bailey led the plunder of runs as the hapless Indians conceded runs to all possible corners of the field.
The pitch played true, and so did the Australians, taking the attack by the scruff of the neck and leaving M.S. Dhoni exasperated and frustrated.
Nothing worked for the Indians, nothing at all. The bowling was awful, to say the least, and the fielding an embarrassment on a few occasions.
Ishant Sharma, Vinay Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja felt the impact of the Australian charge that saw the first five batsmen notch up a half century each — a first in an ODI.
It was also the Aussies’ highest total on Indian soil. There was a pattern they stuck to diligently with some savage and some skilfully placed shots.
The promising start by Ishant, pitching it up, belied for the mayhem that followed, as India looked mediocre as an outfit, unable to arrest Australia’s rampage.
The contest appeared under control for the first 10 overs. The next five were not too dramatic either, but then the wickets were not coming India’s way.
The Australians did not fluster at any stage as they waited initially and then later created some wonderful scoring opportunities.
Aaron Finch batted with lot of flourish. Phil Hughes had the measure of the attack with his canny placements as he played second fiddle to Finch.
A run out, effected by Suresh Raina, gave India the breakthrough as the dangerous Finch gave way to the more dangerous Shane Watson.
Their good work, however, paled in comparison to India’s batting riches.
This was the second highest successful run-chase in the history of ODIs after South Africa made a stupendous 438, chasing down Australia’s 434 in 2006.
Even as Rohit and Kohli rejoiced on the turf, the crestfallen Aussie bowlers reflected the deteriorating standards of international bowling.
Fastest hundreds by Indians
52 balls: VIRAT KOHLI (100* v Australia, Jaipur, 2013)
Kohli’s is the seventh fastest ODI century
60: VIRENDER SEHWAG (125* v New Zealand, Hamilton, 2009)
62: MOHAMMAD AZHARUDDIN (108 v New Zealand, Baroda, 1988)
64: YUVRAJ SINGH (138* v England, Rajkot, 2008)
66: SURESH RAINA (101 v Hong Kong, Karachi, 2008)
66: VIRENDER SEHWAG (146 v Sri Lanka, Rajkot, 2009)