Crowd-pleasing sixes, sweetly-timed boundaries and a game changing show (119, 128b, 8×4, 6×6), marked the 29th century of his ODI career. Sharma extended his fantastic home run with awe-inspiring batsmanship.
Rohit, with skipper Virat Kohli (89, 91b, 8×4), ensured India cruised to a seven-wicket victory in the decider against Australia to clinch the series 2-1 here on Sunday.
Responding to 286/9, powered by Steve Smith‘s century after Australia opted to bat, the duo toyed with the opposition’s bowling attack and made the run chase, a competitive one, seem outrageously easy. They ensured that a probable thriller turns into a lop-sided contest.
For India, Mohammed Shami (4/63) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/44) struck before the batsmen’s feast. Rohit opened the innings with the new ‘floater’ KL Rahul after Shikhar Dhawan injured his left shoulder while fielding. The Mumbaikar played the lead in the brisk 69-run opening stand which ended when Rahul was adjudged leg before off an Ashton Agar with the aid of a review.
There was a lull for a while, but Rohit and Kohli combined to take apart the Australian bowlers – pacers and spinners alike – during their 145-ball 137-run partnership. Kohli missed a century, bowled by Josh Hazlewood, with India 13 runs away from victory while Shreyas Iyer added to the festivity, finishing with an unbeaten 44 (35b, 6×4, 1×6) in India’s 289/3 in 47.3 overs.
Across formats, the M Chinnaswamy stadium has never been a happy hunting ground for Smith. Over the years, he hadn’t crossed the 40-run mark at the venue. He bucked that trend with a 132-ball 131 (14×4, 1×6). In the process, the in-form top-order batsman also ended a two-year century drought in ODIs. His last century (108) in Perth against Pakistan incidentally was on January 19, 2017.
The three-figure mark was almost like redemption for Smith after he got off to a troubled start – his indecisiveness over a single cost skipper Aaron Finch (19, 26b) his wicket. At that juncture, the visitors could ill-afford the loss of another wicket with David Warner (3) back in the dressing room early.
Once Smith got over the faux pas, the 30-year-old was in sublime form. With another star-in-the-making Marnus Labuschagne (54, 64b, 5×4) – he showed composure and class as they went about building a 127-run stand. Jadeja put the brakes on as he tossed up a delivery to Labuschagne which he tried to dispatch to the boundary but found Kohli, who dived to his right to pluck the ball off the air at extra cover.
Smith brought up his ninth ODI ton with a single but with muted celebration. He went for some lofted shots after that, but the return of Bumrah stymied the run flow. When they tried to push the run rate, Shami’s yorkers haunted them. The last five overs saw Aussies score 41 runs, but they lost three quick wickets in the process, with Shami accounting for all three including two in the 48th over. The big one was of course Smith, who attempted to clear the boundary but found Iyer at the deep.