There are hundreds. There are big hundreds. There are ‘Daddy’ hundreds as well. And then there was that epic one by Rohit Sharma. On a sultry afternoon on November 13, 2014, the stylish Indian opening batsman went berserk and set a new milestone in ODI cricket – one that is unlikely to be conquered for a long time to come.
It was the 4th ODI between India and Sri Lanka to be played the iconic Eden Gardens of Kolkata on the November 13, 2014. A dominant India had already won the first three games of the 5-match series and were looking to stamp their authority further on the hapless visitors.
After winning the toss, captain Virat Kohli decided to bat first on what looked like a good Eden surface. Indian opener Rohit Sharma was playing his first ODI in 10 weeks after being out of the game due to a finger injury sustained in August that year. Hence, he began a tad cautiously and there visibly some nerves.
There were a few play and misses and it did not look likely that Rohit would survive for long. When he was on 4, Rohit offered a regulation chance to Thisara Perera at third man. Fortunately for the batsman, the catch was shelled and Rohit survived. It was just the kind of luck Rohit needed to get rid of his early jitters.
Also, it turned out to be the costliest drop in ODI history. As what followed was absolute mayhem.
The Rohit Sharma onslaught
After the dropped catch, Rohit struck a couple of boundaries to get going. He ran well between the wickets and the score ticked along well. Rohit had got a great partner at the other end in Kohli who helped ease the pressure by scoring at a brisk rate.
This allowed Rohit to take his time and play his natural game. His first hundred came at run-a-ball and he was going decently well at that point. But then, out of nowhere, Rohit suddenly shifted gears. The next 164 runs that came from his bat were simply sensational.
The onslaught began in Nuwan Kulasekara’s 30th over, where Rohit plundered him for 14 runs and then became unstoppable. Literally every stroke he played after that almost flew from the middle of his bat. There was no stroke that he did not play. There was no bowler he did not punish. There was no part of the ground that was left untouched by Rohit’s scorching hits.
The exhibition of shots that were on offer were truly mind-boggling. Rohit shuffled around the crease and created shots out of nowhere. He scooped the ball. He smacked it down the ground. He flicked it off his legs. He dispatched it while playing over the up. And he even played some stunning strokes off his hips. Most of the shots defied the laws of physics but they were truly spectacular to watch and the Eden crowd made merry in the stands as Rohit went berserk.
He played with authority, panache and style and murdered every bowler that came in his way.
Perhaps the most audacious shot that Rohit played was the six off Kulasekara at the end of the 48th over. The bowler bowled a half-volley outside off. Rohit shuffled to his right, took the ball from about a foot and half away from him, and then nonchalantly flicked it over the midwicket boundary for the most extraordinary six. It was a remarkable hit and asserted the kind of phenomenal form Rohit was in that day.
Rohit forged two important partnerships in his innings. The first one was the 202-run stand he put on with Virat Kohli for the third wicket. The next one was a truly extraordinary 128 runs in 58 balls he put together for the fifth wicket with Robin Uthappa. In that partnership, Uthappa’s contribution was merely a run-a-ball 16; the rest was all Rohit. It was the kind of flogging that was demoralizing and completely took the game away from Sri Lanka.
By the time Rohit was dismissed in the fifth ball of the 49th over, he had amassed a whopping 264 from 173 balls with 33 fours and nine sixes. It was Rohit’s second ODI double hundred – after his 209 against Australia in 2013 – and was also the highest ever individual score in ODI cricket history. He had gone past Virender Sehwag’s 219, as well as the world record of 229 that had been set by Australia’s Belinda Clark in 1997.
It was an once-in-a-lifetime performance and would always remain etched in the memories of those who watched it.
Courtesy Rohit’s spectacularly glittering knock, India went on to post a colossal 404-5 on the board. Sri Lanka could not sustain the massive pressure and were bowled out for 251, giving India a comprehensive 153-run victory and an assailable 4-0 lead in the series.
Rohit Sharma was the undisputed choice for the ‘Man of the Match’ award. Sri Lanka never recovered from the thrashing they got from his hands and went on to lose the final game of the series as well.
India 404-5 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 264, Virat Kohli 66; Angelo Mathews 2-44, Shaminda Eranga 1-77) beat Sri Lanka 251 in 43.1 overs (Angelo Mathews 75, Lahiru Thirimanne 59; Dhawal Kulkarni 4-34, Umesh Yadav 2-38) by 153 runs.
Player of the match: Rohit Sharma