Rohit powers India to 302/6

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma

Powered by a scintillating century from Rohit Sharma (137), India posted a challenging total of 302/6 in 50 overs in their cricket World Cup quarterfinals match against Bangladesh at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here.

Rohit’s 122-run fourth-wicket partnership with Suresh Raina (65) provided the platform for the defending champions to put up a big total at the ‘G’. Pacer Taskin Ahmed, 19, was the pick of the Bangladeshi bowlers, picking up three wickets including that of Rohit.

After opting to bat, India started off quite smoothly with openers Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan (30) crafting a 75-run opening wicket stand to take India through the initial overs.

The Bangladesh pacers lacked sting at the start. Seeing this, captain Mashrafe Mortaza brought in spin via Nasir Hossain in only the fifth over. When he was unsuccessful, part-time spinner Mahmudullah also turned his arm over.

Such impact-less were the Bangladeshis that Mortaza had introduced five bowlers within the first 12 overs as Dhawan and Rohit batted with ease, without taking many chances and maintaining a healthy run rate.

With none of the Bangladesh bowlers finding success, Mortaza brought in his key weapon — Shakib Al Hasan — and the left-arm spinner got immediate success when he had Dhawan stumped in the 17th over. It took eight more deliveries before Bangladesh struck again when fast bowler Rubel Hossain sent back Virat Kohli (3).

Bangladesh stepped up the pressure on India, curbing their run flow. Under pressure, middle-order bat Ajinkya Rahane (19) did not last lost, chipping one to mid-off to put India in more than a spot of bother at 115/3 in the 28th over.

Enter Raina. The left-hander cut loose right from the start to up the ante. Seeing his partner, Rohit also started going for the shots. Raina, who scored a match-winning unbeaten century in the last game against Zimbabwe, brought his form into this crucial contest to seven boundaries and a six in his 57-ball innings.

The two smashed 50 runs in the batting powerplay (35-40 overs) to help India reach 205/3. India have till now not lost even a single wicket in the batting powerplay, unlike other teams in the tournament.

After Raina fell in the 44th over, Rohit kept up his strokeplay to bring up his seventh One-Day International (ODI) century and become one of only three batsmen to hit two hundreds at MCG along with David Gower and Viv Richards. Rohit’s ton was studded with 14 fours and three sixes.

In the end, Ravindra Jadeja’s unbeaten 15-ball 23-run cameo helped India cross the 300-run mark with 97 runs coming off the last 10 overs.

For statistics freaks, no team has ever chased down a target of 300 or more at the huge MCG.