Rohit Sharma © IANS (File Photo)
Rohit Sharma became the second Indian to score an ODI ton at the MCG © IANS (File Photo)

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

Jan 18, 2015

Rohit Sharma’s sixth ton helped India post 267 for eight against Australia in the second One-Day International (ODI) of the tri-series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). Having won the toss, skipper MS Dhoni chose to bat and India found themselves in a bit of a spot at 59 for three. However, Rohit’s ton combined with Suresh Raina’s efforts to take India to a good total on the drop-in surface at the MCG. India could have scored more had it not been an inspiring spell by Mitchell Starc, who finished with a six-wicket haul.

Australia made one change to their team from the one that beat England in the first ODI in Sydney. Gurinder Sandhu, the New South Wales paceman, won an ODI cap, becoming the first player of Indian origin to represent Australia. India could not play Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma. They brought in Akshar Patel as the all-rounder.

India did not have a good start with Shikhar Dhawan visibly uncomfortable against Starc. He edged one to get off the mark, missed a delivery outside the off-stump and then edged to second slip. Instead of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane walked in at No. 3. Though he looked in good touch, he was dismissed after a few overs when he tried to drive one on the rise and edged to the wicketkeeper, giving Sandhu is maiden international scalp.

Kohli walked in and was dismissed for nine, with India at 59 for three. Rohit and Raina had to handle the pressure from thereon. From the outset, Rohit looked in good control of proceedings. There was a sense of security in the way he batted. In the fourth over, he lofted Pat Cummins down the ground for a six to show that he was seeing it well. Later, he pulled one for six off Starc into the stands.

Raina played with positive intent and that helped Rohit keep the scoreboard ticking. He got to his fifty with a six off James Faulkner over long-on. Raina also essayed a few authoritative strokes. The loft down the ground off Shane Watson stood out. A few short deliveries were also pulled away. He reached his fifty in 61 balls. In tandem, they had put 126 in a little over 22 overs. That was when Starc got Australia back in the game.

Mitchell Starc © Getty Images (File Photo)
Mitchell Starc now has 10 wickets in two matches in the ongoing tri-series © Getty Images (File Photo)

Starc bowled the way he did in the first ODI. He was bowling fast and getting movement, along with maintaining the threatening channels. Raina lofted to the mid-on fielder in the batting powerplay. That was not India’s most productive phase as they scored only 19 runs for the loss of one wicket. Meanwhile, Rohit worked his way to his ton, his third against Australia. He also became the second Indian to get a ton at the MCG.

Dhoni had started off with a boundary but was merely warming up for the assault as he moved to 19. Starc then had him bowled and then trapped Akshar Patel leg-before for no-score. The onus fell back on Rohit. Along with Ashwin, he batted through the slog-overs and managed a big hits. Starc could have gotten his fifth wicket earlier, but Cummins failed to hold on to a tough chance in the deep. He did get it ultimately when Rohit holed out to mid-wicket for 138. Bhuvneshwar Kumar then got out first ball as he was yorked by Starc, who got his sixth. Mohammed Shami calmly played out the hat-trick ball.

Brief scores:

India 267 for 8 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 138, Suresh Raina 51; Mitchell Starc 6 for 43) vs Australia.

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