When Rohit Sharma completed his first ODI century in Mumbai, he took some time to savour it, settling into a relaxed acknowledgement of the applause with his arms outstretched. Even at about 60% capacity, the crowd was rather loud for their local hero.
Rohit likes playing at the CCI's Brabourne Stadium. It is the venue where he made his first T20 hundred, an unbeaten 101 against Gujarat in 2007, and two years later made 309 in a Ranji match against the same opposition.
"I have played a lot of cricket at CCI and I have always enjoyed batting here," Rohit said. "It is a good pitch and you get value for your shots. It has a fast outfield, so you don't need to try and hit too hard. You can find the gaps, and that's what I was looking at.
"When you come to a ground where you have played enough cricket, you feel confident of going into a match. That was my mindset before walking into bat. I understand the nature of the pitch and what it does when the spinners are bowling. Those things are important. Like I said, I've had lot of opportunities to play here and it was going about and doing the same thing."
This hundred, Rohit's 21st, comes in the middle of a purple patch and falls in line with a pattern of increasing scores every time he has gone past 50 over the last month. After scores of 52 and 83* in the Asia Cup, Rohit made an unbeaten 111 against Pakistan in the same tournament, and in the next instance of making a 50-plus score, Rohit finished with an unbeaten 152 at the start of this series. Incredibly, he managed to better even that score, but the three-time ODI double-centurion said didn't think of a fourth at any point.
"While batting, I don't think about scoring hundreds or double-hundreds. I just want to go bat, score runs and get the team to good positions," Rohit said. "The three double-hundreds that I've got, I had never thought about getting them. Even today, in fact, Rayudu was telling me that I can get a double-hundred. But I was just trying to focus on my batting and not think about how I'm going to get to double-hundred. I wanted to score runs and make sure that we get enough runs because CCI can get tricky while [defending]. But we bowled well to get them out."
There were signs that Rohit was alluding to in terms of balance between bat and ball, and perhaps nothing nailed down that hypothesis better than the 224-run margin of victory. And among the stars of India's 377 defence was left-arm fast bowler Khaleel Ahmed.
"In the first innings when me and Shikhar were batting, we were not finding it that easy because it was doing a little bit," Rohit said. "You can't just go straight away and start playing shots. You need to spend some time. So in my opinion the pitch was on offer for both batsman and bowlers. It was probably one of the best pitches that I've played on in India.
"When the left-armers swing the ball the way Khaleel did today, it's always going to trouble the batsman no matter what sort of batsman he's bowling against. If he's swinging the ball the way he is, any batsman in the world will find it difficult. He's maturing very fast, he understands his bowling. And the management also understands where he needs to be come the World Cup. I hope he continues to do that because it's only going to be better for us. Come New Zealand, and the World Cup in England, where the ball swings a lot, he might be very handy there."