Welcome to the era of new-age cricket, folks. One where bowlers are treated with utter disdain, where batsmen rule the roost like never before and where even a 350-run total is not safe.
Two weeks on, India did a ‘Jaipur’ once again, this time in the Orange City. The protagonists were the same — Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli — but India lost a few more wickets in pursuit of what is now is the third-highest chase in ODI history.
At the VCA Stadium, a charged-up Kohli ensured India chased down 351 to win the sixth ODI by six wickets. His efforts meant India levelled the series 2-2. The bandwagon now moves to Bangalore for the seventh and final ODI in this rain-affected series.
After the departure of Dhawan, who scored a brilliant hundred, and Sharma, who made 79, Kohli took the team home in style. He enacted the Jaipur script to bring up his 17th ODI ton, an unbeaten 115 (66 balls, 18x4, 1x6).
Sharma and Dhawan started off cautiously, but after Dhawan got a lifeline early (he’d got one in Jaipur too!), courtesy Glenn Maxwell dropping a sitter at backward point, the duo decided take the fight to the visitors. The next over saw three boundaries — two from Sharma and one from Dhawan — race through a quick outfield.
Dhawan carried on in style, notching up his fourth ODI ton and celebrating it in a manner only he can. However, he too suffered from a lapse in concentration. And was cleaned up while executing a premeditated flick over fine-leg.
Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh were sent back in quick succession, Mitchell Johnson dishing out his favourite weapon — the short ball — against them.
But Kohli was going nowhere, certainly not after Shane Watson rubbed him the wrong way with a few words. India took the batting powerplay in the 34th over, and Kohli made sure it yielded a cool 46 runs. With 84 needed off the last 10, Kohli cut loose, hitting three consecutive boundaries off Johnson in the 41st over.
MS Dhoni knew he needed to do little with Kohli in this kind of a mood. And with 35 required off three overs, Kohli blasted five boundaries in the next 12 balls to bring it down to six from the last over. Dhoni was more than happy to finish the job started by the top three.
Earlier, an effortless 156 (115 balls, 13x4s, 6x6) from skipper George Bailey and a breezy 102 (94 balls, 13x4, 3x6) from Shane Watson powered the visitors to 350/6.