Pedal to the metal

The third double-century in ODIs was a fairly sedate affair until the final few manic overs
Siddarth Ravindran March 14, 2014

Best ODI batting performance

Rohit Sharma
209 v Australia, Bangalore

The sheer quantity of limited-overs matches means a vast number of bilateral series pass you by without leaving an imprint on the memory. But anyone who watched the seemingly superfluous seven-ODI runfest between India and Australia last year is unlikely to forget it. A gargantuan number of runs were scored and 350-plus scores were overhauled with ease, prompting questions over whether the series was a pointer to the future of limited-overs cricket.

Topping the list of batting feats that series was Rohit Sharma's 209, only the third double-century in the history of one-dayers - all three have been scored in the last four years. While the previous two were scored by bona fide legends, this one came from a man who was just beginning to win over the legion of doubters he had amassed over a patchy six-year career. Let alone 200 in an innings, Rohit had failed to score that many in the previous year, having scratched together 168 runs in 14 one-dayers in 2012.

Coming into the series, he had already played over 100 ODIs and had only two centuries to show, both in a low-profile series in Zimbabwe in 2010. But the derisory "Nohit" nickname began to get less airtime after his solid performances in India's run to the Champions Trophy title in England. His batting in the Australia series, capped by the double-century in Bangalore, pushed it further underground.

After weeks of the bowlers getting pounded, the series was tied two-all and was to be decided on the famously flat surface in Bangalore. The Chinnaswamy Stadium is where Chris Gayle has burnished his reputation as a fearsome T20 hitter, one built on innings such as his world-record unbeaten 175 during last year's IPL, and its benign deck and short boundaries are not for faint-hearted bowlers.

After Australia chose to field, batting was proving easy. Rohit usually isn't quick out of the blocks, and he left the early pace-setting to his opening partner, Shikhar Dhawan. India were going along at six an over, but after the glut of hitting in the previous matches, it seemed sedate.

Soon after, the crowd got restless when a drizzle stopped play. And it became worse for them when Virat Kohli - the current darling of Indian fans, particularly in Bangalore, where he captains their IPL side - was run out for a duck following a mix-up with Rohit. At that stage Rohit was 41 off 59. He needed to produce something special if the crowd was to overlook his role in the dismissal of the man they had come to watch.

A burst of five sixes in four overs against the spinners, Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell, hinted at an onslaught, but the dismissal of the off-form pair of Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh prompted another bout of caution. Though Rohit had reached 85 in the 29th over, the century didn't arrive till the 38th, as he focused on singles and twos, prompting mutters from the crowd about the lack of entertainment on Diwali day.

The fireworks arrived eventually. Rohit and MS Dhoni produced an hour of hitting that electrified the fans. Still, it was relatively quiet as late as the 42nd over, when Moises Henriques let an overhead catch go through his fingers to reprieve Rohit on 120. Rarely, if ever, can a drop so late in the innings have cost as many runs - Rohit added a mind-numbing 89 runs in the remaining eight and a bit overs.

The previous two ODI doubles were scored after a punishing pace had been set early in the innings. Virender Sehwag reached his hundred in the 23rd over, and Sachin Tendulkar got to his in the 28th (though he consumed 23 deliveries for the final 13 runs). Rohit's strike rate was below 100 till the 43rd over.

In a matter of minutes, the carping about the scoring rate was forgotten and the fans' attention turned to the milestones Rohit could reach. His 150 came up in the 46th over, and the possibility of a double-hundred grew brighter in the next when Rohit took Doherty for 6, 4, 0, 6, 4, 6 to arrive on 183. By then Australia seemed to be in a state of shock, unsure of where to bowl. Video-game makers Stick Cricket were moved to tweet: "You'll be hearing from our lawyers, India."

Two overs later, Rohit was one short of equalling the record for most sixes hit in an innings. The first ball of the final over was dispatched over cover for six to bring up his double-century. The second hundred had only taken 42 deliveries, and he still had five balls to make it past Sehwag's 219. He added one more, record-breaking, six before departing 11 short of that mark.

Rohit's final 18 deliveries included three fours and seven sixes, but despite the tsunami of runs, he had hardly played any slogs. There was some calculated hitting and some mediocre bowling, and an all-too-clear sighting of how much damage an in-form batsman can do in the age of T20.

Purists may complain about the marginalisation of bowlers, but a fan reflected the sentiments of an overjoyed crowd when he shouted at the end of the innings, "Paisa vasool, boss [Value for money]."

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Posted by raja on (March 14, 2014, 17:08 GMT)

This should have been either Virat Kohli's or Faulkner's !!

Posted by Johnathon on (March 14, 2014, 20:22 GMT)

This really isn't fair. All the batting averages and scores were boosted this entire series because of the ridiculous flat tracks that were made. Kohli's fast 100 was nonsense as well as Rohit's 200. Bailey's heroics, and Faulkner's heroics. No batting innings from that series should even be taken seriously. My vote would have went to Dhawan's 100 in England, Sangakkara's 100 in England, or Quinton De Cock's century. Even Guptill's 189 was pretty spectacular

Posted by Sriraj on (March 14, 2014, 23:36 GMT)

With so many runs being scored in that series full of flat-tracks, I honestly couldn't recall this innings at all. That probably shows how meaningless the context of this innings was. At least I could remember Kohli's or Faulkner's ridiculous heist from the same series but otherwise, every run in that series is over-valued. Looks like this award as usual has been presented for an Indian breaking yet another record for the masses.

Posted by rahul on (March 15, 2014, 3:40 GMT)

Rohit Sharma..that too for an innings in a very good batting track where every body played batted well and india just managed to win despite india scored more than 330 showing that it was a pure batting track

Posted by Marius on (March 15, 2014, 3:47 GMT)

I'd have given this to Faulkner's demolition of India's "pace" bowlers. Or to anyone who wasn't nominated for something they scored on a flat, lifeless road.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2014, 5:55 GMT)

Ham not a big fan of Rohit,but the criticism for his double century on a flat track is ridiculous...if that is the case, y people don't question the consideration of Mitch's award winning performance on a good bowling surface!!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2014, 6:48 GMT)

I dont get get how people can claim Faulkner's innings as morre deserving than Rohit's and complain about how Rohit's innings was on a flat track. Faulkner too played on the same flat tracks that were on offer in that series @MariusPontmercy94: If you would have given Faulkner the award for of demolition of Indian "pacers" I would give it to Rohit for his demolition of Aussie pacers. Notice the absence of the quotation marks.

Posted by Altaf on (March 15, 2014, 7:03 GMT)

One more home ground bully, who even has more away failure than his team mate Dhawan. 3 consecutive tours fail.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2014, 7:25 GMT)

Awards should be given on the basis of Home and Away performances simple.

Posted by Neo on (March 15, 2014, 10:17 GMT)

Bad selection. This wasn't an ODI series, this was a Stick cricket home run fest. Overall, I am disappointed with most of the choices in this award. Seems the winners were selected purely on the basis of numbers. Conditions/situations were not considered. I would value Kohli's knock of 43 in the 20 over champions trophy final more than this Rohit Slog show.

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