Cricket World Cup 2015

Rohit joins India's CWC party

2015-03-19 14:43
Rohit Sharma (Gallo Images)

Melbourne - Rohit Sharma took his time joining the Cricket World Cup party but arrived in style on Thursday, rocking the Melbourne Cricket Ground with a match-winning century to sink Bangladesh and send reigning champions India charging into the semi-finals.

The opening batsman's crisp 137 off 126 balls at the iconic stadium set up an imposing total of 302-6 and the platform for an emphatic 109-run victory that extended India's World Cup winning streak to 11 matches.

More ominously for India's next opponents - either Australia or Pakistan - Rohit has found form at exactly the right time.

Big things had been expected of the sublimely talented 27-year-old, who blasted a world record 264 last year against Sri Lanka, smashing former team mate Virender Sehwag's mark by 45 runs and becoming the first player to score two double-centuries in one-day internationals.

He compiled an imperious 138 in the leadup Tri-series against Australia at the same ground and belted 150 against Afghanistan in a warmup days before the start of the tournament.

After the curtain raised on cricket's global showpiece, however, Rohit struggled, managing only 15 and a duck from the first two pool matches, before scoring an unbeaten 57 in a pressure-free romp against United Arab Emirates.

He sandwiched a 64 against Ireland between two failures against West Indies and Zimbabwe in the three matches leading into the quarter-final and arrived in Melbourne under some pressure from home media.

Buffeted by strong winds at the MCG and pinned down by some disciplined bowling from Bangladesh, Rohit was forced to graft as three of his top-order partners fell but found a determined partner in Suresh Raina.

The pair added 122 for the fourth wicket and mounted a ferocious assault from the second power-play before Raina fell for 65 in the 44th over.

Rohit pushed a two through the covers to raise his century off 108 balls and leapt into the air, punching his fist in celebration as the crowd of 51 000 dominated by fanatical Indians roared.

Rohit's joy was no doubt mixed with relief, having been handed a generous reprieve when 10 runs short of his seventh ODI hundred.

He was caught in the deep off a delivery from paceman Rubel Hossain that umpire Aleem Dar deemed a no-ball above waist-height, but replays showed the delivery was fair.

Rohit was finally bowled with a yorker by seamer Taskin Ahmed in the 47th over, having smashed 14 fours and three sixes in one of the most important innings for India at World Cups.

"I think it will be right up there, it was an important situation where the team needed it the most," Rohit said in a pitchside interview.

"I was determined, I wanted to bat as long as possible and put the team into a good situation and the bowlers did a fantastic job.

"Batting at the top of the order, it's important to get big hundreds and I want to make the most of it when I go out to bat and I'm happy with the way it turned out.

"We played as a team. Bowlers are taking wickets batsmen are scoring runs, we just need to take this momentum into the semis.

"We've talked a lot about momentum and how big a part it plays in big tournaments. We have two more games to go."

Read more on:    india  |  cwc 2015  |  rohit sharma  |  cricket

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