When Rohit Sharma is on song, fielders and bowlers become mere spectators in his own grand theatre. Opponents seem to be there to feed him with deliveries for Rohit to put on an exhibition of his craft. The front foot pull, lap sweeping a fast bowler for a six, even when Rohit is making it look all too easy, there is excitement and anticipation attached to it.
On an overcast Wednesday afternoon in Mohali, Rohit played all around the stadium on his way to his third double ton (208 not out) in ODIs. Sri Lanka looked deflated and flattened, a chastening experience where the bowlers had nothing left in the tank by the end of the innings. Eventually, the hosts finished with a massive 392 for 4 and that proved to be more than enough, to register a crushing 141-run win that helped them gain series parity.
It isn’t just about dollops of skill, which Rohit has in abundance. It is also about stamina and will, and astonishingly, Rohit seemed to be clubbing sixes without breaking a sweat. After a rather sedate start, Rohit reached his hundred off 115 balls in the 40th over. Rohit, however, upped his game by several gears to crunch 108 runs off the next 38 balls. It helped his case that Sri Lanka offered a string of full tosses to the Indian captain, which he duly put away.
In the 44th over, he kindled sparks of life into the game by thumping Suranga Lakmal for four sixes. In the very next over, Rohit displayed a shot of genius when he nonchalantly lap swept Nuwan Pradeep for a six. The very next ball too went into the stands as he reached his 150. In the last over of the innings, he needed nine to complete his hundred. He smashed Thisara Perera for a six to get closer to the milestone. After surviving a run-out scare, he soon reached the mark with a single to midwicket. Celebrations followed as his teammates rejoiced at the feat.
India’s innings wasn’t just about Rohit. After a steady start, Shikhar Dhawan blazed his way to a 67-ball 68. He also helped Rohit gauge the conditions and get himself in. Shreyas Iyer (88), who batted at No.3, composed his maiden fifty. He gave a glimpse of his skills by skipping down the track to spinners to play lofted shots. He also cracked boundaries off Lakmal and Pradeep.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka would hope that they can erase the day and move forward. Pradeep went for 106 off his 10 overs and couldn’t even pick up a wicket. Lakmal went at almost nine runs per over and Thisara ended up with figures of 3 for 80 in eight overs.
Sri Lanka, who were set a monstrous target, lost wickets at regular intervals and were restricted to 251 for 8 in 50 overs. Angelo Mathews (111 not out), the veteran all-rounder, turned out to be the lone warrior, and composed a hundred. However, on a day when Rohit himself accrued a double century, they needed a few more batsmen to make significant contributions. Yuzvendra Chahal snared a three-fer for the home side.
After this resounding win, India will look to wrap up the series when the the two teams lock horns in the final game in Visakhapatnam.