New Delhi : Rohit Sharma continues to go where no ODI batsman has gone before. On Wednesday at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, India's stand-in captain hit his third double-century to further enhance his reputation as an ODI opener par excellence.
In November 2013, Rohit had become the second male batsman after Sachin Tendulkar to score an ODI double-century, stunning Australia with 209 off 158 balls with 12 fours and 16 sixes. A year later, against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens, he pummelled the highest score in ODIs - 264 off 173 balls, with 33 fours and nine sixes.
Martin Guptill (237*), Virender Sehwag (219), Chris Gayle (215) and Tendulkar (200*) are the other batsmen to hit ODI double-centuries; it is no coincidence that each was an opener. This was Rohit's 16th ODI century, taking him past Sehwag to fourth place in India's all-time centurion list. Tendulkar (49), Virat Kohli (32) and Sourav Ganguly (22) make up the top three.
In the second ODI on Wednesday, which India need to win to keep the three-game series alive, Rohit reached his century off 115 deliveries, and then proceeded to hit six sixes and a four as he scored his next 50 in just 18 deliveries. Four of those sixes came in four consecutive legal deliveries bowled by pace bowler Suranga Lakmal in the 44th over.
At the start of the 47th over, Rohit was 161 off 137 balls. At the end of it, he had the strike and was 177 off 142 having heaved two fours and a six. With two overs to be bowled, Rohit had moved to 183 off 145 balls. Of the 12 deliveries left, Rohit faced eight and hammered 25 off them to entered previously unfathomable territory.
His 10th six took him to 190, followed by a single off the penultimate ball of the 49th over. On strike for the final over, Rohit put the first ball from Thisara Perera, a full toss, over the midwicket boundary for six, then drove the second past extra cover for a harried couple. The next ball was pushed wide of midwicket for two to get him to 201.
With a raise of the arms, as if it were common business doing this kind of stuff, Rohit soaked in the applause and got back to business. The fourth ball was swivelled for six more, followed by a single that ended his innings of 208 off 153. In all, he hit 13 fours and 12 sixes today.
That Rohit has a penchant for big innings is well known. Of his 16 ODI centuries, five have been in excess of 150 and four between 137 and 147.