Rohit Sharma made mockery of Sri Lanka’s bowling attack in Mohali as he powered his way to a third ODI double hundred (208*) — his first as a captain and second against the neighbours from down south.
The stand-in skipper, in the absence of Virat Kohli, was under fire after his team’s seven-wicket loss in the opening game of the three-match series. And being put into bat on a green, sticky Mohali wicket wasn’t a great start to the second ODI either, with an 18-year-old off-spinner Washington Sundar being handed his debut in the do-or-die game.
Rohit started safely in his 115-run stand for the opening wicket with Shikhar Dhawan (68) and brought up his 100 playing second fiddle in the second-wicket partnership with fellow Mumbaikar Shreyas Iyer, who impressed with a 70-ball 88.
But the captain soon shifted gears during the last 10 overs of the innings in an all too familiar fashion. He smashed his next hundred in just 36 balls, one fewer than Shahid Afridi’s fastest hundred record that stood for nearly two decades.
He broke Sir Viv Richards’ record for the highest score by a captain against Sri Lanka and also became only the second captain to score a double hundred after Virender Sehwag’s 219 against the West Indies in Indore.
Having scored a mind-boggling 147 off last 10 overs, India ended up with 392 runs for the loss of four wickets as MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya fell before the end of the Indian innings. In a post match interview, Shreyas Iyer expressed his awe at the fireworks on the other end as he had the best seat in the house.
“I think I was just a spectator at the non-striker’s end. He got his hundred off 112 balls and it was just the Rohit Sharma show. Yesterday, I batted in the nets and I took the same confidence onto the field. I believe in myself and my instincts. It it a little bit cold but it still a nice wicket. We have an amazing total on the board. Me and Rohit just decided to take it on till the 40th over: that was the plan. If anyone of us stays, it will be great for the other batsmen. There was a patch where I just saw Rohit Sharma and I was stunned.”
Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar was the first batsman ever to smash a double hundred in ODIs and the only other Indian on the list that is also home to Chris Gayle and New Zealand’s Martin Guptill.
Upon reaching the milestone for the third time in his career, Rohit also directed a flying kiss towards his wife Ritika Sajdeh, who was spotted crossing fingers and nervously cheering her man in the stands throughout the last few overs. It also happens to be the couple’s second wedding anniversary and what better way to mark the special occasion.