|Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma celebrate India’s victory over Australia, in the second ODI, on Wednesday. (PTI)
Jaipur: The might of Indian batting was in full view at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Wednesday, as the world champions pulled off an amazing nine-wicket victory over Australia in the second ODI. The victory enabled India to level the seven-match series 1-1.
It was a dream night for the near capacity crowd, who were ecstatic as India created history by successfully chasing a mammoth Australian score of 359 for five with 39 balls to spare. This was India’s best-ever run chase and the second best-ever in ODI history. The best was by South Africa at the Wanderers in 2006, when they scored 438 for 9, chasing 434 for 4, against Australia.
On Wednesday, the Australians created a world record with their top-five batsmen scoring half-centuries. The Aussies now have the ignominy of ending second best in top-two highest run-chases, having faced a similar fate against South Africa seven years back, when Herschelle Gibbs scored 175 and Graeme Smith 90.
Shikhar Dhawan (95) and Man of the Match Rohit Sharma (141 not out) first set the tone with a record breaking 176-run opening partnership in 26.1 overs. Virat Kohli later took over the task with an unbeaten 100 off 52 balls that had class and aggression written all over it.
It was a virtual run-riot here as Kohli became the fastest century maker among Indians in ODIs and put on 186 runs in 17.2 overs for the second wicket along with Rohit Sharma.
In the last few overs, the Aussie fielders looked helpless and seemed consigned to their fate.
It was a fitting response to the Australian batting, which saw five of their top order batsmen score half centuries.
In reply, two out of three Indian batsmen on view came up with three-figure knocks, while Dhawan fell short of a century by five runs.
True, the wicket offered little assistance to the bowlers, but no amount of praise for the Indian batsmen would be enough on Wednesday. The odds were heavily stacked against them when they came out for the chase.
Having lost the first match in Pune, defeat seemed to loom large at the Rajasthan capital, too. However, Dhawan and Rohit looked relaxed and played to a plan.
Initially, they mixed caution with aggression and put on 69 runs in the first 10 overs. The Aussie bowlers toiled hard, but till the 27th over they saw no glimpse of any success.
By that time, the two openers had already put India on the road to victory. Dhawan’s innings of 95 off 86 balls was a treat to watch.
He hit 14 boundaries, most of which raced to the fence like bullets. In the ninth over, the Delhi batsman hit Shane Watson for three consecutive fours, which almost made the seasoned Aussie lose his cool.
In the 23rd over, the opener treated James Faulkner like an ordinary bowler and slammed him for three boundaries . The fall of Dhawan to a Faulkner delivery brought no respite to the visitors.
Kohli picked up the run chase almost immediately. He hit seven sixes and eight fours to leave the Australian bowlers dazed. Every bowler suffered at his hands as he slammed a six in every over between the 29th and 32nd to race to his 50 in only 27 balls.
Yet, the unbeaten 141 off 123 balls, by Rohit Sharma, was a priceless innings which ensured India’s victory. In the 30th over, the Mumbai player suffered from cramps after hitting McKay for a six and had to be treated on the field. Though visibly in pain, he continued with the fight.
Rohit later termed his Wednesday’s knock as the best ever in his one-day career.
As he finished off the match with a four off Glen Maxwell in the 44th over, Kohli ran down the pitch towards him and the celebrations started there only. So dominant were the Indian batsmen that they completely overshadowed the efforts of the Australians, who once again put the Indian bowlers in all sorts of trouble.
The Australians put up a mammoth score of 359 for five in 50 overs. It definitely did not speak well for the Indian bowlers.
Though the visitors’ initially built up their innings around three players — openers Aaron Finch (50), Phil Hughes (83) and Watson (59) — the man, who actually set the stands on fire was skipper George Bailey with an incredible knock of 92 in 50 balls.
Man of the Match in Pune with 85, Bailey was in murderous mood as he hit eight fours and five towering sixes. He treated the Indian bowlers with disdain and his five sixes came off five different bowlers.
Indian bowlers conceded 122 runs in the last 10 overs of the innings as Bailey and Maxwell sent the hosts on a leather-hunt, putting on a staggering 96 runs in only 8.3 overs for the fourth wicket.
Ishant Sharma (0/70 in 9 overs) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (0/54 in 10 overs) lacked penetration and the third seamer R Vinay Kumar was guilty of bowling either too short or only slower deliveries.