Rohit Sharma struck his sixth one-day international hundred as India set Australia a target of 267 in the second match of the Carlton Mid Triangular series in Melbourne. Opting to bat first on a relatively flat surface at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, India were reduced to 59 for 3 early on in their innings.
A 126-run partnership between Sharma and Suresh Raina pushed India beyond 180, before an inspired spell of death bowling from Mitchell Starc restricted India to total of less than 270. Sharma left his Test match woes behind as he looked in ominous touch right from the outset. The elegant right-hander from Mumbai reached his fifty with a massive six off James Faulkner. Raina, at the other end dug in and stitched together a solid 51. Sharma notched up his hundred in 109 balls, eventually falling to Starc in the 49th over. His 139-ball 138 was studded with nine boundaries and four sixes.
Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan’s deplorable form with bat continued as he left early after edging one to the slips off the bowling of Starc. Driving wildly at a pitched up ball outside his off stump, the left-hander was easily snapped up by Aaron Finch at second slip. Ajinkya Rahane, who came in at number three, followed suit soon after, nicking one to Brad Haddin against the bowling of debutant Gurinder Sandhu. Virat Kohli had a rare failure with the bat after miscuing a pull shot, falling to James Faulkner. The Indian vice-captain just made 9.
India somewhat lost their way after losing Suresh Raina in the first over of the batting powerplay. The southpaw, in his attempt to up the scoring, perished immediately after reaching his half century, holding out to Glenn Maxwell at mid-on. With Sharma and Raina going great guns, the men in blue looked set for a score in excess of 300. The Indian batsmen couldn’t kick on after the departure of Raina. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni failed to capitalise on a start, and Axar Patel and Bhuvneshwar Kumar both went back without troubling the scorers.
For Australia, Starc picked up a career best of 6 for 43. The tall left-armer from New South Wales kept a tight lid on the scoring, picking up three wickets at the back end of the Indian innings. The other wicket takers for the Aussies included Sandhu and Pat Cummins, who picked up one wicket apiece.