Rohit Sharma bulldozed the Sri Lankan attack with a whirlwind record-equalling 35-ball century and powered India to a colossal 260 for five in the second Twenty20 International, on Friday.
Rohit equalled South African David Miller's record of 35 -ball century, en route to a coruscating knock of 118, his second T20 hundred and the best by an Indian in this format. In an incredible display of hitting, rather punishing of the bowlers, the Indian captain smashed 12 fours and 10 sixes during his 43-ball stay at the crease. It was not power-hitting but sheer elegance which came with remarkable ease. There was never a dull moment till the time Rohit was at the crease as he pulled, cut and drove the clueless Lankan bowlers at will.
In the process he raised a 165-run stand for the first wicket, the highest for India, with KL Rahul, who scored 89 off 49 balls. India's total is joint second highest in T20Is with only Australia's 263 for three against Sri Lanka being a better effort. Sri Lanka had scored 260-6 against Kenya at Johannesburg in 2007.
Before being caught at short third man off Dushmantha Chameera, the Indian captain left the Lankans shell-shocked but delighted the home fans at the jam-packed Holkar stadium, hosting its first ever T20 International. He seem to have taken a special liking for the Lankans against whom he raised his third ODI double century, just eight days back.
Rahul, who was dropped on six, was also impressive with his stroke-making, especially the sixes in the 'V'. He missed out on his hundred, though, after being caught sensationally by Niroshan Dickwella off Nuwan Pradeep in the 19th over. His knock had five fours and eight sixes. The Indian openers literally toyed with the Sri Lankan pacers, who ended up leaking 43 runs in the first five overs. Pradeep, introduced in the fifth over as first bowling change, was creamed for 17 runs. Both Rohit and Rahul hit a six each off him.
There was neither probing length nor the fearsome pace in the Lankan fast bowlers to trouble the Indians. The only blemish was Rahul's cut off Angelo Mathews that went straight to Sadeera Samarwickrama but the Lankan dropped the chance at backward point in the third over of the innings. Desperate to rein in the Indians, Perera brought in off spinner Akila Dananjaya but he ended up conceding 16 runs in his first over.
Left-arm spinner Chaturanga de Silva was smashed for a 101-metre six by Rahul, who stepped out and launched the ball straight over media box. This was after Rohit had hit two fours off the hapless spinner. The Indian captain completed his fifty with a six off Asela Gunaratne and followed it up with another six and two fours as the Lankans bled runs. It was not even half-way mark and India had cruised to 108 for nine with 21 runs coming off ninth over from Gunaratne.
There was no stopping Rohit, who cruised to his hundred in the 12th over with a four off Angelo Mathews. This was after hitting his counterpart for four consecutive sixes in the previous over. After his departure, former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was promoted yet again to bat at number three and he and Rahul raised a 78-run partnership. Dhoni scored 27 off 21 balls with two fours and as many sixes.