Rohit Sharma celebrates after completing his second ODI double-century © PTI
Rohit Sharma celebrates after completing his second ODI double-century © PTI

Rohit Sharma’s 264 is an once-in-a-lifetime innings for One-Day Internationals (ODIs). The advent of T20 cricket has truly reshaped the approach to ODIs, where batsmen push the perceived limitations. Rohit has set a new benchmark for others to emulate and it is an innings that reflects the nature of modern cricket. Nishad Pai Vaidya discusses the innings and the shot that defined it in a microcosm.

Until 1954, it was believed that running a mile in under four minutes was outside man’s perceived limitations. But, Sir Roger Bannister’s rubbished those notions by doing the unthinkable and since then that feat has been emulated on innumerable occasions. The One-Day International (ODIs) double hundred seemed a similar barrier for the first 39 years in the format’s history. Sachin Tendulkar scaled the summit in 2010 and since then, we have had three more double centuries. Rohit Sharma’s astonishing 264 has only raised the bar further and is also a reflection of the times we live in.

While the 250-mark has been breached by Ali Brown back in 2002, it seemed far-fetched at the highest level. However, Rohit’s effort goes to show how cricketers have pushed the limits over the last decade. The advent of T20 cricket has of course played its part. Sustained aggression over long periods often stem from its practice in the shortest format. But, Rohit’s innings had the elements of the classical ODIs and the modern irreverence. A breakup of his innings presents a good lesson for any budding cricket on pacing an innings over 50 overs.

Consider this: Rohit reached his fifty in 72 balls, which occurred in the 24th over of the Indian innings. This was a throwback to the era where such scores were acceptable. By modern standards, it was slow. However, he raced away to 100 in the next 28 balls. Thus, he had recorded a run-a-ball ton. That was in normal T20 gear. The next 100 came off only 51 balls. The last 64 runs, came off 22. With each stage, Rohit shifted gears quite rapidly. Starting with the classical ODI approach, he moved onto the high voltage T20 gears. This again highlights the importance of playing oneself in before smashing the ball around. In a previous era, a batsman may have gunned for around 130-150 after getting a half-century around the 25th over. Today, the possibilities seem endless!

Majority of the strokes were good cricketing shots. Yes, there were a few dropped chances; keep those aside and there was hardly a false stroke. The shots through cover stood out as he played them all along the ground. The smart shots past point were exuded class and was proof of the extra time on his hands while playing shots. However, the shot that stood out was a six he essayed off Nuwan Kulasekara in the death overs.

Rohit walked across his stumps with the intent of lifting one over the leg-side. Kulasekara sensed the movement and bowled it wide outside the off-stump. Rohit was facing Kulasekara square on and was seeing the ball go away from him. He could have left it? No! Rohit scooped it from way outside the off-stump and sent it over long-on for maximum. The shot was a reflection of the attitude of this era, the quality of the bats as well as the batsman’s talent and confidence.

The ball could have gone for a wide! After all, it was angling down the tram lines on the off-side. But, why get a run and the extra ball when you can pick six! That is the psyche of the modern batsman. Caution is word that comes in handy on occasion. Breaching possibilities and innovation are the order of the day.

While most rave about Rohit’s splendid innings, there would be the brickbats! It may have been a batsman’s paradise and the opposition may have missed its best bowlers, but take nothing away from a man who has set a new benchmark in ODIs. Getting 264 in an international game, against a Test playing nation, is outrageous! In 2013, India chased down two 350-plus scores in a series. A year down the line, one of the stars of those triumphs has redefined the records. The only question is: What next for ODIs?

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)