The third ODI between India and Australia was a comprehensive win for India and a treat for R45 (Rohit Sharma) fans. It would be perhaps not wrong to say – it looked like R45 had made it R45 v Aussies instead of a match between two national teams. The lethal stroke play on display was as painful for the Aussies, to say the least. And the tragic run out of Aaron Finch in which Steve Smith was involved, did not help the Australian fortunes either. Steve smith’s 131 though was some consolation for the Australian team and their fans.
The third and decider ODI at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium produced an unstoppable R45 force. The ground is especially lucky for Rohit against the Aussies. In four innings at the venue, he has scored 437 runs, 393 of that against Australia from only three outings.
“Australia simply have no answer to Sharma here, and it was the case again on Sunday in the decider of the three-match one-day series”, wrote Hindustan Times in its tribute to R45 innings.
As I have written earlier, Skipper Kohli excels when R45 performs well. This was the case again where Kohli having averaged only 12.60 from five innings here, made 89 off 91 balls including 8 fours.
Perhaps the biggest blow to the Aussies’ hopes was the 137 runs Sharma-Kohli partnership. It accounted well for Shikhar Dhawan’s injury while fielding and thus inability to come out to bat. While R45 plundered, the fans were singing and dancing on the seventh heaven. India kept the record of not losing a home series since 2013.
After Australian made 286 for nine for their innings, R45 made it a pure and simple ‘batting practice in the nets’ like blitz, by launching into a six-hitting spree on way to a match-winning 119 off 128 balls. His innings included 8 fours and 6 sixes. This was Rohit Sharma’s 29th ODI hundred, 8th against Australia.
Perhaps already marred by Finch’s anger on the run out, Steve Smith’s brilliant knock of 131 off 132 balls with 14 fours and one six got totally blurred by the sheer grit and brilliant stroke play on exhibition by the Indian opener – Mr R45 – Rohit Sharma.
R45 delivered home to India a 2-1 series victory to start the year on a positive note.
Australians should have known of how decimating R45 can be in Bangalore, particularly in light of Sharma’s first ODI double century when he scored 209 in 2013. His knock of 209 included 16 sixes.
He was again lethal in 2017 game, but was run out for 65.
But this time – yesterday – January 2020, he was ‘storming unstoppable’.
The other Indian to watch was the pace bowler Mohammed Shami. He did the work for India’s win taking four wickets with his special craft of using late seam movement with the new ball and perfect yorkers in the death overs.
Jasprit Bumrah, who had done a brilliant job against Australian on tour down under proved the ideal second bowler after Shami. He was the most mean as a bowler and conceded only 38 runs in 10 overs. Despite Steve Smith’s fighting century for his team, Shami and Bumrah always kept Australia “on leash”.
The only possible criticism that can be made of India was the number of extras they conceded—27, including 13 wides. Although the 3rd ODI being the decider was a high voltage game – the team management and the bowling and fielding coaches will have to take stock of how to improve things going forward, particularly – with October World T20 in sight. For now, Indians are on their way to New Zealand for a five match T20 series commencing Friday, 24 January at Eden Park Auckland. T20 series will be followed by 3 ODIs and 2 Test matches. Stay tuned!