Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma showed just why one should never underestimate the calibre of Indian batsmen on home soil by scripting a sensational chase of Australia’s gigantic 359/5 for an exciting nine-wicket victory in the second one-day international at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on Wednesday night.
It was the second highest run chase in the world behind South Africa’s overhaul of Australia’s 434 in Johannesburg in 2005-06. The victory also levelled the series 1-1 after visitors had won the first ODI in Pune.
Few, though, would have given India a chance. But the ferocity with which Kohli (100 n.o., 52b, 8x4, 7x6) batted not only zoomed him to the history books for raising the fastest century by an Indian, surpassing Virender Sehwag, but also overshadowed the brilliant efforts of Rohit (141 n.o., 123b, 17x4, 4x6) and Shikhar Dhawan (95). Kohli’s was the seventh fastest ODI ton ever.
Such was the impact of Kohli’s knock that India ended their pursuit with 39 balls remaining.
The foundation was laid by 176-run opening stand between Rohit, who scored his third ODI century, and Dhawan, who was unlucky to miss his ton.
Dhawan especially batted with certain defiance he has come to be reckoned with. On a belter, he showed no hesitance in stepping out and going after the bowling, and Shane Watson faced the music when he was sent three successive boundaries in the ninth over.
Dhawan’s departure, caught behind off James Faulkner, brought Kohli to the middle and what followed was pure mayhem. With his terrific strokeplay, he ripped apart the formidable Australian attack, who could not find any bite from the track, supposed to aid the seamers.
Kohli’s innings also provided cushion to Rohit, who in the middle overs was hampered by cramps. Rohit’s innings was a continuation of his form in the Twenty20 formats, imbued with responsibility and controlled aggression. His hundred, was his first in three years in ODIs, and deservedly earned him the man of the match award.
The Australians could not be faulted if they had dreamt of pulling off 2-0 lead in the series here. Their batting was phenomenal after they asked Indians to field under blazing sun.
Australia’s innings was based on well-planned strategy of constructing the innings through strong partnerships. Never before in a one-day international the first five batsmen of any team had scored 50s and never before an Australian team racked up such a mammoth total on Indian soil.
The Indian bowlers, tempted by the greenish cover, resorted to bowling short but couldn’t be probing enough. They didn’t have the pace to trouble the batsmen and their wayward line only brought them at the receiving end of the Australian onslaught for the second straight time.
After a solid start by Aaron Finch (50) and Phil Hughes (83), the Australians innings gained momentum through the sensational batting from their captain George Bailey, whose brisk 96-run fourth-wicket stand with Glenn Maxwell helped them in compiling such high score.
Before that Shane Watson (59), the virtual home boy of Rajasthan Royals, played crucial innings at No. 3 to set the stage for an Australian run-fest.
He started with a boundary, a mistimed cut which flew through the slip and grew only menacing from there on. More significantly, Watson whipped the two Indian spinners -- R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja -- to kill any hopes of a fightback. But the way hosts rose to the occasion sent the spectators with fond memories of finest Indian batting.