Before the start of the Mohali ODI, there were some issues regarding the failure of the openers. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had both failed to contribute consistently at the top. When the Indian cricket team lost the Ranchi ODI against Australia by 32 runs despite Virat Kohli’s sublime 41st century, the questions grew louder. “We are not a team that loses wickets in a bunch regularly but it has happened thrice in the series and that is something we will look to correct in the next couple of games, we want partnerships that can get us going,” Kohli remarked after the defeat. Kohli’s words appeared to have galvanized both as Dhawan blasted a century while Rohit fell short of his milestone by being dismissed for 95 as the duo shared a record opening stand in Mohali to put India on top at the PCA stadium in Mohali on Sunday.
Dhawan’s 16th ton and the 193-run stand with Rohit would have eased some of the worries of Virat Kohli as they look to get their batting sorted ahead of the ICC Cricket World Cup which begins on May 30 in England. India chose to bat and it was Dhawan who got going with a boundary to the deep backward square leg fence and he targeted Pat Cummins in the fifth over by slamming him for two boundaries. Dhawan continued to deal in boundaries and scored at a strike rate of over 100. The Delhi opener then went after Jason Behrendorff by hitting him for a couple of boundaries and he reached his 28th fifty in style by drilling Jhye Richardson down the ground to notch up an important milestone.
The fact that he broke the rut in Mohali and against Australia is poetic. On his Test debut in 2013 against the same opponents, Dhawan blasted the fastest century on debut off just 85 balls and smashed a brilliant 187 as India won the Test. Dhawan’s aggressive batting seemed to rub off on Rohit as well and he preferred to play second fiddle. Rohit broke the shackles by clobbering Jason Behrendorff straight down the ground over long on for a massive six. The Mumbai right-hander chose to rotate the strike and he made good progress.
At the other end, Dhawan neared a century by clubbing Glenn Maxwell over deep midwicket for a big six while Rohit broke MS Dhoni’s record of most sixes by an Indian player by launching Adam Zampa for his second six. Both players stitched a record opening stand in Mohali, going past the mark of 155 which was set by Bryan Young and Nathan Astle in the 1997 ODI. This was the duo’s sixth 150-plus opening stand. Rohit benefited first from a misfield as he entered the 90s by pulling Aaron Finch to the long leg fence.
Both Dhawan and Rohit got closer to their centuries by pulling Jhye Richardson to the fine leg and deep midwicket fence but in the quest for glory, Rohit creamed the pull shot straight to the fielder to fall for 95. The left-handed Dhawan tough, continued on his merry ways and he notched up his milestone by paddle sweeping Adam Zampa to the fine leg fence. The celebrations from Dhawan reflected a sense of relief, but he will know that this will have to be the start of a very consistent run as the final preparation push begins.