It was a much-needed knock - Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma has said his unbeaten 141 off 123 balls was "a much-needed knock" because it was only his third ODI century and his first since 2010, a drought perhaps caused by his tendency, by his own admission, to play "some stupid shots."
Rohit's innings spearheaded India's chase of 359 in only 43.3 overs, the highest total in ODIs for the loss of only one wicket. Virat Kohli's 52-ball 100 smashed the record for the fastest century by an Indian, and an explosive Shikhar Dhawan missed out on a century by five runs.
India captain MS Dhoni said he had trusted his batsmen to achieve the huge target, and all he had asked was for them not to slog blindly.
"Most of us guys have played a bit of international cricket, but they don't have the experience of a Yuvraj Singh, who has played 250 or 260-odd ODIs," Dhoni said. "So at times when you chase 360, what you want to do is go out there and be aggressive and go for the big shots, but it's very important to not lose shape. When you are going over mid-off, it should look like you are going over mid-off, and not like slogging over midwicket. [While playing] most of the shots [today], if not all, they maintained good shape. It was an ideal wicket too with the dew. Very fast outfield too."
The victory helped India level the seven-match series against Australia 1-1, and Rohit was one of the key players in achieving the second highest successful chase in ODIs. "It was very important for me to play a big innings," he said. "I knew it was a long time. I would like to say again that the hard work never stopped. I have kept preparing the same way as today. It was a much-needed knock, and I am happy it came in a winning cause. I wanted to bat through the innings. I completely agree that I have played some stupid shots [in the past] to get out. That's my natural game. I would like to play my shots."
Rohit put on 176 for the first wicket with Shikhar Dhawan but it was his partnership with Kohli that blew Australia away. When Kohli came in to bat, India still needed 183 in 23.5 overs, but he just ran away with the game and allowed Rohit to pace his innings. "I kept telling Rohit that it was his day today, but I kept hitting the ball very well," Kohli said. "I didn't bat in the nets yesterday, just had a few throw downs."
In the first game, India had to tackle bouncers both on and off the field, with old questions being asked about their ability to play short-pitched bowling. "I wasn't worried about the short-pitched stuff," Kohli said after his century. "I pulled a few of them early, and then they started bowling half-volleys."
The third component of India's chase, Dhawan who made 95, was not complaining about missing a century. "We started off very well and once we got the momentum, we just carried on," he said. "We didn't want to play rash shots early, we opened up only later. I am happy for Rohit that he got the century today, because he was playing well in the last few months."