Rohit Sharma Dhawan India
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan set the tone for the Indian innings with a brilliant opening partnership. BCCI Official Website
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan set the tone for the Indian innings with a brilliant opening partnership. BCCI Official Website
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan set the tone for the Indian innings with a brilliant opening partnership. BCCI Official Website

How do you chase down a target of 360, if successful, the second-highest in one-day international history?

Well, why not a couple of hundreds, one the fastest ever by an Indian, and a 95 and some batting that will just leave you breathless, in a good way, and wanting more, wanting much more.

India duly obliged with just that, putting on a stunning show of second-innings, target-chasing batting to haul down the massive Australia score of 359 for five, posted courtesy a brilliant unbeaten 92 from George Bailey.

Rohit Sharma (141 n.o.), Shikhar Dhawan (95) and Virat Kohli (100), beating Virender Sehwag's fastest century record by an Indian, treated the crowd in Jaipur, and everyone watching around the world with some delightful strokeplay, taking India to 362 for one in just 43.3 overs, yes 43.3 overs, with nine wickets in hand, yes, really they lost just a single wicket all innings!

The win ties the seven-match ODI series at 1-1 with India sending a major statement of intent to Australia, after the visitors had thumped them in the opening one-dayer.

An opening partnership to just set the tone for such a big run chase is essential, and India needed one from Dhawan and Sharma desperately.

The duo obliged, and how, with a brilliant alliance of 176 runs from a pittance of a 26.1 overs. Dhawan was at his absolute best, coming down the pitch regularly and taking the Australian bowlers to the cleaners with some delightful strokeplay.

Rohit Sharma was also quite wonderful to watch, some of the cover drives that come off the bat of the right-hander pure joy.

Dhawan, it must be said, lived a bit of a charmed life, with Brad Haddin dropping the left-hander when he was just on 18, while he also just about escaped a stumping appeal a little while later.

However, nothing can be taken away from the opening partnership, with neither batsman letting the run rate get away from them, and with it releasing the immense pressure that would have been hanging around the Indian dressing room air.

Dhawan, who was behind Sharma in the scoring department in the first half of their partnership, took over after completing his half-century, in 55 balls, romping towards the three-figure mark as the Australian fielders ran for cover.

The Indian opener looked primed for a hundred, when James Faulkner found the outside edge, leaving Dhawan (95, 86b, 14x4) five runs short of the century.

It did not matter too much, though, as Virat Kohli came out looking like he had been itching for a go in the middle. The Delhi boy, not happy with the amount of sixes hit in the innings, decided to deal in maximums as one six after another rained over the bowlers' head.

India, with Kohli smashing deliveries left, right and centre, out of the park, and Sharma looking as comfortable as possible, were cruising to the target, with the run rate coming down to nearly six runs an over with 15 overs remaining.

Those 98 runs in 90 balls, with Kohli and Sharma (141, 123b, 17x4, 4x6) in ridiculous form, were whittled down easily with Sharma reaching his hundred in the 38th over. The celebrations after completing his third century, and first as opener said it all for the Mumbaikar who has constantly been criticised for not making enough of the good starts.

Virat Kohli broke Virender Sehwag's record of the fastest century scored by an Indian. BCCI Official Website
Virat Kohli broke Virender Sehwag's record of the fastest century scored by an Indian. BCCI Official Website

The last 60-odd runs was about Kohli getting to his hundred, with the 24-year-old cranking up a gear previously unimagined to beat Sehwag's record of the fastest hundred by an Indian.

Kohli, who had eight fours and seven sixes in his innings, reached his three-figure mark in just 52 balls to obliterate Sehwag's 60-ball century, and the century is also the fastest against Australia by any player.

The rest was academic as India cruised, absolutely cruised, home.

Earlier, Bailey led from the front for the second straight match as Australia absolutely mauled the Indian bowlers to post 359 for five in their 50 overs, their highest ever first innings score on Indian shores.

The openers gave Australia a sound start yet again, putting on 74 for the opening wicket, with Aaron Finch coming to the fore in the first 15 overs. Philip Hughes was very much the backseat passenger in that opening partnership, scoring just 22 of the 72 with Finch grabbing himself another half-century.

Finch has the knack of finding boundaries at will, and this innings was not just about thumping the cricket ball - which he does pretty well it must be said. There were quite a few caresses for boundaries as well.

After smashing a six to reach his 50 from 52 deliveries (7x4, 1x6), Finch misjudged a quick single, with Suresh Raina producing a brilliant direct hit.

Australia need not have worried, though, as Shane Watson stepped into the Finch-sized hole perfectly, with Hughes also deciding to get in on the act and pull himself to the front seat as the visitors drove down the smashing-Indian-bowlers-at will road.

Watson's 59 (53b, 6x4, 3x6) was a typically belligerent innings, with the all-rounder looking right at home in the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, the home ground of his IPL side Rajasthan Royals.

Watson and Hughes' partnership was the highest of the innings, and the only one that crossed the century mark, with the duo putting on 108 in just 16.4 overs.

Hughes and Watson set the perfect platform for the rest of the Aussie batsman, before falling in the space of a few overs - the latter, first, to R Vinay Kumar and then Hughes to R. Ashwin.

If India thought they were finally going to rein Australia in like they did in the T20 match last Thursday, they were in for a rude awakening.

Maxwell and Bailey's stunning knocks came to nothing. BCCI Official Website
Maxwell and Bailey's stunning knocks came to nothing. BCCI Official Website

Bailey has this disarming look and feel about him; the rival sides do not really fear him, and neither do the rivals fans. Well, they should be afraid, they should be really afraid.

The Aussie captain just absolutely hit top gear, and then some, from ball one, smashing the Indian bowlers without any regard for their reputation.

The Australian skipper has averaged over 50 this year in ODIs for Australia, but not too many of those innings have been scored in such style. This knock of 92 from 50 balls (8x4, 5x6) was just utter domination, and one-day hitting at its pure best , with Glenn Maxwell, as he has been doing in the past couple of games, chipping in with a quickfire 53 (32b, 7x4, 1x6).

No Indian bowler had an answer, and M.S. Dhoni could only look from behind the stumps, hope and  watch in awe as Australia carved out 122 runs from the final ten overs, to send the home side and the fans reeling. 

It proved to be just a prelude to the real show though, as India's young guns trumped the first innings heroics of the Australians in some style.