In the heart of India, on top of World

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 02 Oct 2017 10:24:42


By Paritosh Pramanik,


Spinners, Rohit give India their No 1 ranking back

IT WAS his 14th ball of the innings. Rohit Sharma, struggling to get going, went for a heave-ho. The resultant inside edge climbed up but ended just short of the stretched Pat Cummins. All at sea, Rohit was searching for his cool nerve. Ajinkya Rahane, the non-striker, immediately provided it with a confidence boosting pep talk. Those words helped the flamboyant opener break shackles. He scored a fabulous 125, guided India to a thumping seven-wicket win and gave them the World No 1 ranking back.

Early nerves was the story in the Australian innings too. David Warner and Aaron Finch started off with a flyer but the cooling effect came from the Indian spinners, led by Axar Patel (3/38). Aussies made just 242 on the flat deck and India cantered home in 42.5 losing three wickets.
Just after his frustrating suicide attempt, Rohit carved out two exquisite boundaries in the next two deliveries to open his account. Scoring his first run from the 15th delivery, he soon changed gears and scored his 50 from just 37 deliveries and 100 from next 94.

Rahane (61), at the other end, too, showed his class. His drives were as smooth as butter. Defending a meagre total, Australian bowlers were disciplined but Rohit and Rahane were equally talented to pick runs as India scored runs without any dent. Steve Smith’s introduction of spinners too did not change thing much as the contest turned into a lop-sided Indian win.

Rohit hit Travis Head for a straight six and then again danced down to dispatch the ball to covers to race to 49. He completed his half century from 52 deliveries. Rahane, too, completed his half century a couple of overs later with a boundary off James Faulkner.

The duo added a century-run opening wicket stand for the third time in the series, the other two being at Indore and Bengaluru. The 124-run partnership was finally broken in the 23rd over by Coulter-Nile who managed to hit Rahane’s pads in front of the wicket. Rahane went for a referral but in vain.

Rohit continued to toy with the Australian bowlers and hit five sixes in his innings. The 124 runs partnership was enough for India to cruise for another thumping win. Captain Virat Kohli joined Rohit and the two played without taking any risk. They picked ones and twos and fetched occasional boundaries to keep the scorers busy.

Rohit completed his 6,000 runs in ODIs with a tap towards third man when he was on 92. He competed his first century in Nagpur with a thumping six over long on off Coulter-Nile. The Nagpur-born opener’s century was studded with 10 boundaries and three sixes. Kohli played the second fiddle. His first boundary came after 49 deliveries. Rohit’s entertaining innings ended in the 40th over when he tried to clear the long on boundary only to give a simple catch to Coulter-Nile off Adam Zampa. Kohli followed soon in the next over as he too tried to clear the fence but was caught by Stoinis off Zampa at long off.
Kedar Jadhav (5*) and Manish Pandey (11*) completed the formalities with 7.1 overs to spare.

Earlier, the troika of Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and Kedar Jadhav, strangulated Australian batsmen to restrict at 242. In form spinners Yadav (10-1-48-0), Patel (10-0-38-3) and Jadhav (10-0-48-1) bowled a tight length to make it difficult for the Australians. While Jadhav’s side-arm deliveries were difficult for Aussies to read, Axar and Kuldeep used variations to frustrate them.

Though Kuldeep was unlucky to get any wicket, he maintained pressure which helped the other bowlers strike. Warner (53) and Finch (32) started well adding 66 runs for the first wicket. But after their partnership was broken in the 12th over by Hardik Pandya, none other showed intent barring Head (42) and Stoinis (46) who added 87 runs for the 5th wicket.

Patel broke Head-Stoinis partnership disturbing the furniture of the former in the 43rd over which pushed the Australians on the backfoot.
Jadhav got the wicket of Australian captain Smith. Smith tried to sweep him but was caught half-crouched as the ball crashed onto his pads.

Bumrah, who was clobbered for 34 runs in his first four overs, came back strongly in his next two spells to concede only 19 runs from six overs as Australians ended at 242 runs which India knocked off easily.