JAIPUR – India chased down a target of 361 with nine wickets and 39 balls in hand to record the second highest run chase in ODI cricket history and square the one-day series against Australia in sensational fashion in Jaipur today.
Virat Kohli hit an unbeaten 100 from just 52 balls – the quickest ton ever by an Indian batsman and the seventh fastest in the history of the 50-over game – as he and Rohit Sharma (141 not out) steered the hosts home in some style to level the series at 1-1.
The duo’s centuries – along with 95 from opener Shikhar Dhawan – meant India crossed the line with an astonishing six-and-a-half overs still remaining.
With their top five all making half-centuries – the first time the Aussies have ever managed that in ODI cricket – the tourists managed to amass what seemed at the halfway stage to be a highly-competitive score of 359 for 5 in the second one-dayer.
Yet India proceeded to make such a daunting total look somewhat minuscule with a superb display of clean hitting. Sharma led the way, his career-best knock including 17 fours and four sixes.
He shared in a first-wicket stand of 176 with Dhawan – a record for the hosts against Australia – and then put on an unbroken alliance worth 186 with Kohli, who blasted his way to three figures with seven sixes and eight fours.
James Faulkner claimed the only wicket for the Australians, getting Dhawan caught behind by Brad Haddin. The wicketkeeper had earlier muffed a chance off the left-handed batsman when he had just 18 to his name.
No bowler was spared during the onslaught, with Sharma’s biggest concern coming when he suffered a bout of cramp when on 75.
It was a superb response from India’s batsmen after they had underperformed in a 72-run loss to start the seven-match series on Sunday.
Their bowlers, however, once again suffered at the hands of the Australians. Stand-in skipper George Bailey top-scored with an unbeaten 92 from 50 balls after winning the toss and opting to bat first at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.
Aaron Finch and Phil Hughes put on 110 for the first wicket in Pune and the pair once again laid the foundations with a partnership of 74 in 15.1 overs before the former was run out for 50.
Watson came in to add a further 108 – the highest stand of the innings – as he made 59. He hit three sixes in his knock before perishing when trying to clear the rope for a fourth time, smacking Vinay Kumar straight to long-on.
Hughes was caught behind off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin for 83, but Bailey and Glenn Maxwell (53 off 32 balls) upped the tempo superbly by adding 96 for the fourth wicket in a mere 8.3 overs.
Yet all their efforts were soon to be overshadowed by India’s top three, meaning the seven-match series now sits at 1-1 heading into the third game on Saturday in Mohali.