Cricket

Rohit ton powers India to seventh successive T20I series win


WINDIES TOUR OF INDIA, 2018

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Rohit Sharma moved to the top of the list of most tons in T20Is © AFP

Rohit Sharma lit up the Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium with a spectacular century, welcoming international cricket back to Lucknow after 24 years in style. Rohit’s unbeaten 61-ball 111 led India to a comfortable 71-run win in the second T20I, that helped them pick up the series too, with one match to play, after the Windies were kept to 124 in a chase of 196. This was also India’s seventh successive T20I series win (including the Nidahas Trophy tri-series).

Nobody knew how the pitch would play in Lucknow given that it was the first men’s international being played at the ground. With just 11 runs coming off the first three overs, with Oshane Thomas even opening the innings with a maiden to Rohit, it looked like a sluggish pitch. Windies’ pacemen upfront were excellent with their lines on and around the stumps, not giving either Rohit or Shikhar Dhawan any width to go after them. The pair were patient, weathering the pacers on merit. However, with spin being brought in in as early as the fourth over, the opening pair teed off against them, adding 123 for the opening wicket.

Conceding control, Windies suddenly found themselves on the back-foot with runs flowing with ease. Rohit’s timing and placement were exceptional, bisecting the field at will. Dhawan, who had struggled against Thomas in the last few innings, went after the bowler his third over, taking him for 17 runs, after he had given away just four in his first two, to get a move on. Dhawan was also let off when Keemo Paul made a mess of a catch that should’ve been taken at deep square leg. He went on to play second fiddle to Rohit – who was clearing the large boundaries of the stadium at will, and with ease – with a patient 43 off 41.

The ball began coming on better as the innings progressed, but it still stayed low. Rohit’s versatility in the innings shone through with him scoring runs not just in the V, but through the leg-side and through extra cover. He particularly went after the spinners against whom he scored 48 runs off 23 balls. It was a typical Rohit innings, who saw out a maiden over and then switched gears after which there was no turning back, especially given that the Windies bowling posed little threat other than what Thomas did early on. With KL Rahul for company in the death overs, Rohit hit top gear, taking only 20 deliveries to move from 50 to 100 for his fourth T20I ton – most by an individual – as he powered India to a formidable total.

Windies weren’t able to match up to India’s efforts with the bat as the top order failed to deliver again. Hitting across the line, somewhere between a sweep and a slog-sweep on a wicket that had little bounce, had Shai Hope bowled, while Shimron Hetmyer gifted away his wicket, holing out in the deep to Dhawan as Windies were set back by early wickets with Khaleel Ahmed accounting for both. There was no semblance of a fightback from the Windies, who kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Kuldeep Yadav came and set them back further with a double strike as Darren Bravo edged to Rohit at slip who took a brilliant catch and and Pooran was castled as the Windies were unable to play him.

A gentle flick from Denesh Ramdin to Rohit was followed by a mindless run-out as they were reduced to 81 for 7. The run-rate mounted to over 20 eventually, but the game was over for Windies much before that. India’s bowlers shared the spoils, but the pick was Bhuvneshwar Kumar who conceded just 12 off his four overs and bagged a couple of wickets.

Brief scores: India 195/2 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 111*, Shikhar Dhawan 43; Fabian Allen 1-33) beat Windies 124/9 in 20 overs (Darren Bravo 23; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-12, Jasprit Bumrah 2-20) by 71 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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