Four years ago, it was in Mohali that Rohit Sharma had opened the batting for the first time. In 2017 the Mumbai-lad showed much he has progressed as a batsman since then. This was after he slammed his third double century in ODI cricket against Sri Lanka on Wednesday. Riding on his knock India set a daunting target of 393 for Sri Lanka to chase. In reply, the Lankans fell short by 141 runs as India won the match and levelled the series 1-1.
Just like the first ODI, Sri Lankan captain Thisara Perera won the toss and opted to bowl first. But unlike the first encounter, this time the Indian openers applied themselves in the middle and took a cautious approach from the start. But once they settled in, the duo of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma went on to forge yet another century partnership before Dhawan was dismissed for 68. From thereon it was young Shreyas Iyer who joined his skipper and together with Rohit Sharma struck up a mammoth 213 run-stand. In the process, Shreyas Iyer also reached his maiden ODI fifty before being dismissed for 88.
While Sharma, who is also the stand-in skipper, was initially wary of his approach, once he reached his 16th ODI hundred off 115 balls, the Mumbaikar launched a breathtaking attack on the Lankan bowlers. In one over of Suranga Lakmal, he hit four sixes to jet from 116 to 150 in a matter of minutes. As Rohit changed gears what followed was utter destruction as the sixes and fours rained in a cold winter morning in Mohali. Courtesy of his unbeaten 208, India posted a menacing total of 392/4.
Chasing a daunting target of 393, the visitors got off to a poor start. Upul Tharanga and Danushka Gunathilaka were dismissed early as seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were on the mark right from the start and no loose deliveries were on offer.
Introduced later in the attack, debutant Washington Sundar also had a day to remember as he bagged his first ODI wicket in his second over, when he castled Lahiru Thirimanne. The only Lankan batsman who looked comfortable in the middle was veteran Angelo Mathews. Mathews’s second ODI hundred provided some amount respectability to the Lankan scorecard. Incidentally, both have come against India and both in losing causes.
A poor start coupled with the loss of wickets at regular intervals never allowed the visitors to get into the math. Yuzvendra Chahal’s three wickets, in particular, was a big setback. At the end, Sri Lanka could only manage 251/8 as India won the match by 141 runs.