Rohit Sharma waqs second highest individual scorer surpassing Sachin Tendulkar's score of 200 then © PTI
Rohit Sharma (Above) was second highest individual scorer surpassing Sachin Tendulkar’s score of 200 then © PTI

On November 2, 2013 when the world was celebrating Diwali across India, cricket also heard the loudest firecrackers at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. One man ensured that Bangalore was lit up with lights and made the maximum sound, which will be deafening for years to come. That one person was Rohit Sharma. The Indian batsman was floundering in One-Day International (ODI) format, a stage when Rohit witnessed complete darkness. The series prior to the Australia tour, against Zimbabwe, saw some unusual scores from Rohit: 20, 1, 14 and 64. It was nowhere near to what he is capable of doing.

The year 2012 was equally disastrous for the youngster with scores coming in single digits against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It was against the same Australian team, where Rohit failed to go past the 20-run mark in early 2012. But this 7-ODI series against Australia was a turning point for Rohit’s career. The third Indian batsman to secure double century in ODI. He struck 16 sixes, a new world record.

Let’s rewind to the time when Rohit made his debut in ODIs. When Rohit made his entry into the ODI arena in 2007 against South Africa, he was bundled out for 8. Until 2010, Rohit’s career fluctuated with some half-centuries here and there. A time came when he scored back-to-back centuries against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka in May 2010, covering up for all the fluctuations since his entry. But Rohit continued to witness darkness at the end of the tunnel finding no light to bring an end to his struggling times. In 2011, he found a ray of hope with his consistent performance against West Indies, but that was that.

India were worried with the single digits coming from ‘Hitman’ and his inconsistency posed threat for India, at least at the top-order. One can easily say, this double century was a boon for youngster. With former Indian great Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell series round the corner, Rohit managed to grab the eyeballs at the right time and turn the tables around.

The outburst:

Before heading for the final ODI, the series was evenly poised by 2-2. One was washed out while the other bore no result. Being a series decider, the match was very crucial for both the teams.

The earlier matches saw some incredible innings from Australia with George Bailey being the star amongst the batsmen, missing out on his century twice. Amongst the bowlers, Mitchell Johnson fared decently amongst with seven wickets in the series with five targeted towards three Suresh Raina and two towards Yuvraj Singh in the series. For India, it was Rohit on most occasions be it with 141 or bringing down the curtains with his double century.

The sun was shining bright at Chinnaswamy and all expected the Australian batsman Bailey to fire once again and steal the show. But this story had a different angle to it. Australia won the toss and opted to field. Amit Mishra was benched and Vinay Kumar was called upon. As for the Australia, Nathan Coulter-Nile entered for Johnson.

There were chances for rain to play spoilsport once again, however, India were hopeful to provide the perfect feast for their fans on this festive occasion.

India had their opening batsmen taking the centre stage – Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit. Clint McKay started off the attack for Australia and gave the start India were looking forward to – WIDE. But Rohit was not too keen for the ones and twos and right away went for a boundary smashing Coulter-Nile towards mid-on. First one for India. The hosts were at 112 for no loss when the first wicket fell and it was Dhawan who was driving force for India, not Rohit, for most of the time.

Rohit and Dhawan have built 100-run stand many a times, six to be precise. But this one was special as India were aiming to clinch the series. After few boundaries from Dhawan, Rohit aimed for a biggie and this time he lofted James Faulkner’s delivery all the way towards long-off. The first six for Rohit in the innings and for India as well.

With 8 fours, Dhawan anchored the initial stages of the innings and secured his half-century. He continued his spree with boundaries and just when the opening stand had reached 107, rain threat started to loom around. However, the game did go on.

Dhawan was removed by Xavier Doherty and entered Virat Kohli. Knowing that Bangalore is Kohli’s favourite ground to break a few records, one thought it would be a run fest. This time, even Kohli could not bear the Australia bowling attack and was dismissed for golden duck. When the chips fall down, it all zeroes down to one man show.

Yuvraj and Raina failed to provide impetus, with the former being caught for a stunning catch by Brad Haddin. It was Rohit who had to stay put and keep Australia out of the game.

It was time for Rohit to shift his gears and the way he accelerated answered it all. In 71 deliveries, Rohit surged through his half-century. Sharma got back-to-back sixes tossing one straight out of the ground while the other towards long-on. It felt as if a monster was unleashed after his half-century.

At the 35th over, MS Dhoni joined Sharma to watch all the fun at the other end. Rohit was just four runs away from yet another century of his career. But there was something interesting to witness when Rohit secured his century. Rohit was all mellowed down as usual while celebrating his century, but one could notice rather excited Kohli in the dugout celebrating the century with all excitement. The bromance continues till date, mind you.

Dhoni let Rohit take the stage as he was this time the sailor of the ship with the boundaries and sixes, with the former complimenting the batsman with ones and twos. When Rohit was playing on 120, Moises Henriques missed on a rather simple catch that could have ended the innings of the opening batsman. With that dropped catch, Henriques was nowhere to be found throughout the match.

It was in the death overs, Dhoni took charge of the bat and lofted the boundaries along with Rohit. With a biggie once again Rohit, reached comfortably to his 150-run mark and on the 46th over, Rohit was slowly tip-toeing to his 11th six. At one point, Australia reached a stage where they were baffled on how to stop the unstoppable on the crease, where on one side Dhoni was charged up with some crucial boundaries and on the other hand Rohit found no full-stop to his innings.

Doherty was rather puzzled after being smashed the most through the innings. By the 47 th over, Rohit not only equalled the most sixes record along with Shane Watson but also reached 184. With three sixes and four, Rohit was ecstatic, excited and jolted to celebrate his maiden double-century. McKay was not even concerned as he was anyway being smashed the most by the ‘Hitman’. Not until McKay was finally blessed to get the wicket of Rohit in the final over. That also brought an end to the highest partnership of the series between Dhoni and Rohit of 167.

***

The conclusion to this much firecracker game was simple: Australia were reduced to 74 for 4, Glenn Maxwell was at top with his quick-fire 60 off 22 deliveries, Watson also tagged along with some crucial boundaries. But it was Faulkner who had other plans. His century off 107 deliveries was rather suppressed when India bundled out Australia for 326, despite all the efforts. Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja shared six wickets to help India clinch the series by 57 runs.

***

Although, India provided the perfect Diwali gift to their fans, there were Rohit fans who rejoiced and could not get over the celebrations. I remember, checking the score updates due to the festivities and unfortunate to miss out on watching this crucial record by the ‘Hitman’.

So Rohit scored 1,000 ODI runs apart from the world record, also the second highest-individual score surpassing Tendulkar (200) and falling behind Virender Sehwag (219). Rohit, not so surprisingly was also was awarded Man of the Match as well as Man of the Series.

It was a junction for Rohit that proved to be a whirlwind moment for the batsman after series of ups and downs. Rohit took seven years to reach this record while Tendulkar took 39. It was Tendulkar to reach this first, followed by Sehwag and now it holds on to Rohit.

Rohit had many more of such innings on his way. The next event was against Sri Lanka at his favourite Eden Gardens with his second double-century and his highest ODI score till date, in 2014 falling in the same month. Rohit sealed his spot permanently as opening batsman in limited-overs cricket.

Although he might continue to struggle in Test cricket with his form, there are some records that cannot be erased off.

(Shruti Hariharan is Content Writer with CricketCountry. You can follow her on Twitter at @Shruti_2890)