Rohit double helps India square series

Cometh the hour, cometh the man! Rohit Sharma’s brilliance brought Mohali to a standstill, as he went on to smash his third double century in ODIs, a feat nobody has even got close to. While all other double ton holders have just one, Rohit went on to better his own record, even staying unbeaten as opposed to his previous two doubles. Sri Lanka were hapless with the ball, and there wasn’t much of a chance for them in the chase either.

Sri Lanka, who were high on confidence after their bowling boost in the first ODI, chose to bowl after winning the toss. In the first ODI, India handed Shreyas Iyer his first ODI cap, while in this one, Washington Sundar was given his first opportunity to play for India. The Indian openers did not want to commit the mistakes they did in Dharamsala, and were cautious right at the start. Shikhar Dhawan took up the aggressor’s role after the first Powerplay. He went on to score a sublime half-century, but couldn’t last beyond 68 runs.

After Dhawan’s departure, Rohit Sharma shifted up a gear, and began playing some picturesque shots with fellow Mumbai batsman, Shreyas Iyer for company. Iyer, who was rewarded his maiden ODI cap in the first ODI, wanted to make this opportunity count. With the team in a good position, Iyer’s confidence was sky high, and he didn’t waste much time in playing his shots.

The Mumbai pair went about their business in classy fashion with some supreme strokes. Rohit closed in on his century, and played a few dazzling strokes. The exhibition of shots included a good mix of power, placement and finesse. Scoring easily over 6 runs an over, the Indian score went past 200. A perfect platform was laid by India’s top three, and it was time to go all guns blazing, and possibly double the score from here on.

Shreyas Iyer got to his maiden ODI fifty, and was hitting the ball at a strike-rate of 100. Soon after, Rohit Sharma went on to score his sixth century of 2017. He got there in 115 balls, and there was only one way from here for Rohit’s strike rate – upwards. India’s score crossed 250 in the 41st over. It was time for Sharma & Iyer to cut loose.

The team’s next 50 came within the blink of an eye. A little over 3 overs after scoring 250, India surged past 300. Rohit Sharma tonked Suranga Lakmal for 4 sixes in an over, each of them coming off four consecutive legal deliveries; there was a wide in between. He stormed past 150 after India crossed the 300-run mark. Team India became the first team ever to score 100 scores of over 300 in ODI cricket.

The big-hitting didn’t stop there! After toying with Lakmal, Rohit decided to take on Nuwan Pradeep, smashing two consecutive sixes in the following over itself. Shreyas Iyer played some delicate shots that matched some of Rohit’s strokes as well. However, he perished in the 46th over when he tried to force a slower one from outside off stump, over the leg side. He holed out to mid-wicket, ending the mammoth partnership.

The possibility of Rohit scoring yet another double century grew with each over. Dhoni joined Rohit at the crease, as the skipper went about his boundary-hitting business with ease. Rohit slammed two fours and a six off Pradeep to move into the late 170s. Dhoni went on to hit a magnificent strike into the crowd, but got dismissed off a slower one on the very next ball.

Dhoni’s wicket didn’t stop Sharma, who went into the 180s at the end of the 48th over. Hardik Pandya got in and smashed a boundary before he rotated the strike over to his India & MI skipper, late in the 49th over. Rohit didn’t waste any time in bringing out his big shot again, as he crashed Pradeep for another six and followed it up with a single, to end the 49th on 191, with an over to go.

Rohit had six balls and needed 9 runs to get to his third double century. Thisara Perera, his counterpart decided to bowl the final over. Rohit didn’t want to leave it for later, as he sent the first ball, a full toss, sailing into the crowd to move on to 197. On the second delivery, Rohit mistimed the ball wide of long off, and sprinted back for the second. Under pressure of releasing the ball soon, the fielder couldn’t get his throw on target either, and Rohit made it easily, although with a dive.

With no nerves and butterflies in his stomach, Rohit blasted his way to his third double century with a maximum with one of his favourite strokes, the pull shot. Emotions ran high on the pitch in Mohali. He didn’t get one, not two, but three double hundreds. Four other batsmen have one double hundred each, but this man alone has three now. Rohit ended on 208, unbeaten, something he couldn’t do with his previous two double tons. He notched up his fifth 150+ score, joint most with Sachin Tendulkar & David Warner. The skipper went on to hit the most sixes by an Indian batsman in a calendar year. The 208 is the second highest score by a captain in ODIs.

Sri Lanka knew that they had to play extremely well to even get close to the target of 393 runs. They needed a good start and a massive partnership at the top, much like what the Indians had. The openers didn’t go all guns blazing and decided to get their eye in with the lights on, against the new ball. However, Hardik Pandya who was bowling with one of the new balls, claimed the wicket of Upul Tharanga, who fell cheaply for just 7 runs.

Jasprit Bumrah accounted for the other opening batsman. He got Gunathilaka to edge one through to Dhoni, down the leg side. Lahiru Thirimanne joined Angelo Mathews, but the former just couldn’t get going. He eventually fell to Washington Sunday, giving him his maiden international wicket.

The Lankan middle-order decided to put up a fight, and played positive strokes. Niroshan Dickwella looked to take on the spinners along with Angelo Mathews. He threw away his start when he looked to slice Chahal to the third man fence. The bounce got to him, and he ended up handing a catch to Sundar at point.

Angelo Mathews got to a neat half-century, while Asela Gunaratne settled in nicely at the other end. The stylish right-handed batsman played a few switch hits against the Indian spinners. He took a few risks and lived dangerously, but only till the score of 34. Chahal teased Gunaratne with a slider and got him stumped by Dhoni. The Lankan captain, Thisara Perera couldn’t wield the long handle, as he too, got dismissed off Chahal’s bowling.

Sri Lanka lost their seventh wicket on 180, as Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up his first wicket of the night. Dananjaya hung around with Mathews for a while, but the Lankans couldn’t make anything productive out of the situation, even though Mathews was batting well. Bumrah brought an end to Dananjaya’s resilience.

Angelo Mathews played with a lot of heart while wickets kept tumbling at the other end. He got to his second ODI century; his first was against India too, in a losing cause. Mathews hung around with the tail to see to it that Sri Lanka weren’t bowled out in 50 overs.

India bounced back very strongly on the backing of a strong performance with the bat, courtesy Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Iyer & Shikhar Dhawan. They went on to prove that the loss in the first game was perhaps an aberration. The captain led from the front and Shreyas Iyer, the youngster stepped up his game when it mattered. This win sets up the series perfectly with the decider happening in Visakhapatnam, on Sunday, 17th December.

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