We often talk about moments in individuals’ life, which signifies what is to come. When a 19-year-old Rohit Sharma made his debut in 2007, he made many experts sing his praises and though it took a bit of time, he finally has established himself as a regular in all 3 formats.
When the demi-god of the masses, Sachin Tendulkar reached the 200 mark in ODIs, people went berserk. There is also a famous story about that double-hundred, which saw the ESPN Cricinfo claim that their site got crashed whilst Sachin was inching closer to the 200 due to overloaded viewership.
Just another year later, the masterful Virender Sehwag too scored a double hundred, but that didn’t surprise many. Considering Sehwag’s ability to demolish even the best of bowlers, no matter what the format is, this was very much on the cards and his 219 at that moment was the highest individual score in ODI history.
It took another 2 years for the cricketing world to witness another 200 in ODI, but when it came, it came from the most unlikeliest of sources. After the first six matches, the series was evenly poised at 2-2 (2 matches were abandoned due to rain) and the stage was set for an enthralling finale at the batsmen’s paradise and bowler’s hell, the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru.
The 2013/14 ODI series between India and Australia is regarded as one of the most entertaining series of all time, which saw India chase down 350+ targets twice in a span of 10 days. Something similar was expected in Bangalore as well, but it didn’t turn out to be so from the outset.
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma got India off to a racing start, but Dhawan was sent back by Xavier Doherty and Virat Kohli ran himself out to bring Australia very much back in the match. Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh too, found themselves back in the hunt without any great contribution. But on the other side, Rohit Sharma was silently laying a foundation for a mammoth innings.
When MS Dhoni came into bat, the scoreboard read 207/4 in 33.5 overs and after Rohit Sharma’s strike rate was closely inching towards the 100 mark. In the 38th over, he got to his hundred and India found themselves at 232/4 after 40 overs. Well, everyone were expecting a big finish in the final 5 overs with Dhoni and Rohit well set, but it was not a big finish, it was a monstrous assault launched in the final 10, utterly demoralizing for the Aussies.
Rohit had the majority of the strike, but Dhoni too was not willing to take a backward step in the few cherries he got to face. The ferocity of the assault, more specifically in the last five overs, was something which can never be put in words. From 113 at the end of 40th over, Rohit reached 157 by the 46th over. He then spanked Doherty for 26 runs in an over and suddenly, the crowd were on the edge of their seats, who knew, a double was up for the grabbing.
When the final over was about to start, Rohit was just one hit away from an astonishing double ton and the entire stadium was on its feet. He finally got to the 200 mark with a beautiful six over the cover-point region and the elite club of double centurions had a latest inductee.
The six which brought up his 200, was the 15th one of the day for Rohit, equalling Shane Watson’s world record and the very next ball saw Watson’s world record get to the second position, as Rohit muscled one over the mid-wicket. He got out the very next ball, trying to flick the ball over square-leg, but the damage was already done and he went back to the pavilion with a resounding reception even from the opposition camp.
India ended their innings at 382/6. 150 runs were yielded in the final 10 overs, which pretty much explains Rohit’s domination and the Aussies’ helplessness. Australia didn’t go down without a fight though, as Glenn Maxwell registered the fastest ever fifty in Australian ODI history and James Faulkner’s mind boggling century, which also was the fastest ODI hundred in Australian history, saw Australia get agonizingly close.
Yet, Faulkner got out at the wrong time and Australia lost the match by 57 runs. Interestingly, Australia had 35 balls to spare before getting all-out. There were a numerous number of records broken that day, but the day solely belonged to Rohit Sharma, who won the man of the match and man of the series award for his world record tally of 491 runs in the series.
That series on the whole was the time which changed Rohit Sharma’s life and reputation forever. Though people had an idea about the immense talent possessed by him, there was no clear cut evidence which could justify the compliments he received over the years.
It took some time, but finally he transfigured into a trust worthy batsman and if he were to look back at his short, yet momentous career and ask himself, where did it all began? Well, numerically it might be 2007, but this series and more specifically, this match was the time which got his career kick started.