Rampaging Rohit flattens Lanka

India post 141-run victory to level three-match series 1-1

Rampaging Rohit flattens Lanka

Few can make batting look so easy. Rohit Sharma, the Indian captain for this series, gave a delightful demonstration of that  special ability on Wednesday when he hit a devastating double hundred that crushed Sri Lanka's hopes of sealing the series.

India plucked a comfortable 141-run victory at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium on Wednesday in the second one-day international and with it levelled the series 1-1.

It was the  third ODI double hundred by Rohit, the first batsman to achieve such a feat. Previously, he had one each against Australia (209 in Bangalore, 2013) and Sri Lanka (264 in Kolkata, 2014). Here, he strung another knock of brutal hitting and sweet timing.

With Shikhar Dhawan (68) and young Shreyas Iyer (88) contributing fluent half-centuries, India heaped 392/4 in 50 overs and Sri Lanka were shattered simply by the weight of it. They couldn't go beyond 251/8.

Barring Angelo Mathews, who scored a fighting century (111 n.o.), the rest of the Sri Lankan batsmen failed to get their act together. The openers Upul Tharanga and Danushka Gunathilaka were back into the dressing room by the eighth over and when debutant Washington Sundar castled Lahiru Thirimanne, it sparked a familiar collapse.

After being tortured by the swing and seam in Dharamsala, the Indians found a surface just right to allow their batting to prosper as the ball came nicely on to the bat. Sri Lanka hoped to cash in on the overcast conditions but obviously had not reckoned with Rohit.

The Indian captain restrained himself in the first 10 overs before cutting loose. Soon, he was flogging the Sri Lankan bowling with his outstanding strokeplay that upset the bowlers' rhythm. The hero of the first ODI, Suranga Lakmal, who had bowled an unchanged spell in Dharamsala, didn't even finish his quota of overs. Like most of his colleagues, he was guilty of bowling full tosses and half-volleys and Rohit muscled four sixes off him in the 44th over, three of them successive.

With the pitch being unresponsive to the Sri Lankan efforts, Rohit raised 115 runs for the opening wicket with Dhawan and 213 for the second with Iyer. If in the opening partnership, Rohit stepped back to give Dhawan the charge, he assumed full control in the second, providing Iyer the cushion to play his shots freely.

It was only in the 22nd over that Sri Lanka  got  a breakthrough when Dhawan stepped out to hit left-arm spinner Sachith Pathirana but failed to clear the fielder at midwicket. Iyer, replacing him, gave an excellent display of temperament and shot selection. He scored briskly, and looked set for a century in his second ODI but got carried away. It was hard not to get influenced when someone like Rohit was giving a spectacular display of pyrotechnics at the other end.

The knock was a tribute to Rohit's fitness and his ability to pace his innings. If he brought up his first 50 in 65 balls, he achieved his next in 50 balls. By the time he had added 100 more, he was on a rampage, consuming a mere 36 balls.

It was only in the last over of the innings that he reached the landmark with a single to mid-wicket. He was watched from the stands by his nervous wife on their wedding anniversary. He raised his arms for everyone before kissing his wedding ring even as the stadium erupted in incessant applause. It was a memorable day for Rohit, and, of course, India.

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