50 overs India 8 for 308 (Rohit 124, Rahane 89, Kohli 59) v Australia
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Rohit Sharma scored his second consecutive ODI century © Getty Images
Rohit Sharma’s outstanding run of form against Australia continued at the Gabba, where his second consecutive century set up the second ODI in remarkably similar fashion to the first match in Perth. At the WACA, India had batted first on a flat pitch and reached 3 for 309 on the back of a Rohit hundred; in Brisbane they again batted first on a friendly surface and this time posted 8 for 308, also thanks largely to a Rohit ton.
But such a total proved insufficient in Perth, where Australia chased it down to take a 1-0 series lead, and India will rue the fact that they again failed to make the best of the start given them by Rohit and Virat Kohli. The last ten overs brought just 75 runs for the loss of six wickets, a period that could yet be the difference in the match. That said, Australia will still need a strong batting display to chase down 300-plus.
In Perth, Rohit had finished the innings unbeaten and it took a stroke of luck for the Australians to claim his wicket this time, when Ajinkya Rahane’s straight drive clipped the fingers of the bowler James Faulkner and ricocheted back onto the stumps with Rohit out of his crease, backing up. The Australians would argue they should have had Rohit on 89, when he the umpire failed to detect an edge behind off Joel Paris.
Still, it was a wonderful innings from Rohit, who in his last five ODIs against Australia has scored 209, 138, 34, 171* and now 124. Australia were fortunate that the one failure amongst those innings came in the World Cup semi-final, when he was bowled by Mitchell Johnson. There is no Johnson now, and an inexperienced attack featuring Paris, Scott Boland, Kane Richardson, John Hastings and Faulkner struggled to contain him at the Gabba.
This was not simply the Rohit show, though. As in Perth, Kohli provided strong support with a half-century after opener Shikhar Dhawan fell in single figures, but this time Rahane, who had not been required to bat at the WACA, was the other key man. Rahane joined Rohit in the 24th over and they combined for a 121-run third-wicket stand that only ended with Rohit’s run-out.
Rahane fell short of a century himself, caught for 89 off 80 deliveries when he skied a Faulkner slower ball to deep midwicket in the 49th over. It was one of four wickets that fell in the last two overs: Manish Pandey also skied a catch off a Faulkner legcutter for 6, then R Ashwin was caught trying to ramp Hastings in the last over for 1, and Ravindra Jadeja was run out for 5 trying for a suicidal single from the last ball of the innings.
Though India lost more wickets this time, the similarities between the first two games were striking, beginning with the cheap wicket of Dhawan – this time he edged behind for 6 to give Paris his first ODI wicket – and continuing with a strong partnership between Rohit and Kohli. They added 125 for the second wicket, ticking the scoreboard along with ease while doing little of significant risk; Kohli cruised to his half-century from 60 deliveries, having struck only three boundaries.
Australia’s bowlers looked about as likely to strike as lightning, and it took an electric throw from Richardson at deep fine leg to break the partnership when Kohli was run out for 59. Rahane proved a more than adequate replacement, and another century stand again was ended by a run out. Rohit struck 11 fours and only two came in front of the wicket, although he also cleared the boundary three times with ease.
His century came up from his 112th delivery – as in Perth, it came in the 37th over of the innings – and India looked well set with 10 overs to go, at 2 for 233. But Rohit spoke in the lead-up to the match of the need for the set batsman to stay in during the final overs, and this time through his unlucky run-out, he was unable to do so.
MS Dhoni was caught in the deep for 11, giving Boland his first ODI wicket, and Australia’s bowlers used their variations well to restrict the Indians to one run less than at the WACA. Whether the similarities continue during the chase remains to be seen.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo