Rohit 200 off 156 deliveries

Rohit Sharma might have felt the need to compensate his team and the crowd for running out Virat Kohli, the hottest batting talent in India at the moment, for a duck. He did so by hitting 16 sixes, a world record for an ODI innings, powering to a double-century, the third in one-day cricket and all of them by Indian batsmen, and setting Australia a target of 384 to win the seven-match series in Bangalore. Compensate he did, indeed.
 Rohit and MS Dhoni plundered 167 runs off 94 balls for the fifth wicket. India scored 151 runs in the last ten overs, of which 101 came in the last five. Rohit had gone past 100 off 114 balls. He had been dropped on 120. And then he went past 200 off 156 deliveries. The easy-paced pitch, the shortness of the Chinnaswamy Stadium's boundaries, the waywardness of Australia's seamers, the absence of Mitchell Johnson and the injury to Shane Watson were factors that gave Rohit the perfect stage, and he played the perfect innings, resplendent for the grace and smoothness of his strokes.
As ball after ball sped off Rohit's bat to and over the boundary, it was difficult to recall that he had been the supporting act during his sixth century stand in 19 innings with Shikhar Dhawan, their third such opening partnership of this series. And that he had to overcome a testing period, when Dhawan was trapped lbw in the 19th over and Kohli run out in the 20th.
Before those wickets, Rohit had got going by cutting wide balls from James Faulkner, both shots dripping with elegance, the second bringing up the fifty stand in 6.2 overs. He also hit the innings' first six, driving a full offering from Faulkner over the wide long-off boundary. It was Dhawan, however, who had infused the innings with momentum, punishing Clint McKay and Nathan Coulter-Nile for bowling on both sides of the wicket by flicking and cover-driving for three boundaries in an over. He reached his half-century off 43 balls and then took India past 100 in 15.1 overs.
Shortly after that, the capricious Bangalore weather forced the players off the field for 30 minutes, and soon after that India lost their first two wickets.
For a few overs, Rohit and Suresh Raina batted circumspectly. Only for a few. In the 26th, Rohit stepped out to launch Glenn Maxwell's offbreak over the wide long-on boundary. In the 28th, he came out twice to loft Xavier Doherty against the turn over the leg-side boundary. His six count was four.
Australia's captain George Bailey, his relief at Kohli's dismissal swiftly fading, brought Watson back for the 29th over, only to watch his bowler pull up as he approached his delivery stride. His hamstring sore, Watson trudged off the field. Back came Maxwell, and Rohit continued his feast, sending balls into the crowd at long-on and midwicket.
India lost Raina and Yuvraj Singh, who scored only 19 in four innings this series, in quick succession too, but Rohit was not fazed. Firmly in six-hitting stride and his fourth century achieved, Rohit pulled Faulkner flat and fast towards deep square leg, where the substitute Moises Henriques positioned himself to take the catch but only parried the ball for another six.
India were only 232 after 40 overs, but Australia's seamers finished like they had begun, with no control over lines and lengths, making life impossible for their captain, who could only deploy four boundary riders. Rohit drove imperiously, through and over the field at cover, and pulled and flicked too. His smooth stroke-play was in contrast with Dhoni's more brutal blows, including a helicoptered six that flew over the roof at long-on.
At the start of the 46th over, Rohit was on 142, and he punished McKay for two fours and a six as 16 runs came off it. A despondent Bailey turned to Doherty for the next over and after Rohit hit him for three sixes and two fours, a double-century was realistically achievable for the first time.
He got there by driving a length ball - the first of the 50th over from McKay - clean over the cover boundary. Rohit was not done; another record was in sight. The next ball was was fuller and straighter. Rohit flicked and watched it fly into the stands for his 16th six.

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