New Delhi: The ninth over of their innings. Rohit Sharma shimmied down the track all set to pull the gear. Aussie pacer Kane Richardson cleverly brought down his length and angled it down to the leg side in a bid to outfox the opener. But Rohit outclassed the seamer as he elegantly pulled it hard, soaring it high over the midwicket region and off it went into the orbit.
He dealt most part of his innings with sixes, and finally brought up his quickfire fifty with a six. Such was his grace and elegance. Rohit's gritty 62-ball 71 runs not only gave India that initial momentum into their innings, but also helped create a ravishing 139-run stand alongside fellow opener Ajinkya Rahane (70) in the hosts' successful chase to 293 in Indore.
Rohit, the 'Hitman' Sharma, as he is known as, has had a phenomenal track record against the Aussies. If only one could roll back to 2013 when he had notched up an astounding double ton in Bengaluru against a touring Australian side. And much was expected in Chennai, but he could only amass 28 from 44 deliveries. At Eden Gardens, considered to be his love affair, Rohit failed there again with a mere score of seven. Ergo, fans wouldn't have had much of an expectation from him when he stepped onto the field with the willow in Indore. Until the fifth over.
Pat Cummins was into the attack. Third ball, speedy bouncer as Rohit picked up the length and pulled it hard over long leg for a maximum. As unexpected as it was, fans were left stunned. And one came off just a few deliveries later. An outside off ball of a good length and Rohit leaned forward to clear the long-off fence. Not only six, boundaries too came at regular intervals as the 30-year-old notched up his 37th ODI fifty from just 42 deliveries, his fastest ever, leaving behind his previous record of 43 deliveries against Sri Lanka at Pallekele, last month.
Lacing 4 sixes and 6 boundaries, Rohit notched up a blistering knock of 71 runs from 62 deliveries and thus went past Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar and former New Zealand international Brendon McCullum on the list of most sixes against Australia in International cricket. The right-handed batsman sits atop with 63 maximums, two ahed of the Kiwi man and three clear of the his fellow countryman.
It has been a gradual transformation for the cricketer indeed. Looking back at his career, since his debut in 2007, Rohit smashed just 23 sixes in 81 ODI innings. But thereafter, he has 113 sixes to his name in 79 ODI innings. Looking at the last four year's stats, South Africa batsman AB de Villiers stands behind him with 106 sixes in 86 innings, followed by English cricketer Eoin Morgan with a century of maximums in 95 innings.
Accounting India's overall statistics in the all-time list of prolific six-hitters, Rohit Sharma stands a position five with 136 sixes. Leading the chart is Mahendra Singh Dhoni with 205 such strikes, followed by Tendulkar (195), Sourav Ganguly (189) and then Yuvraj Singh (165).
Adding to it, Rohit's knock of 71 runs took him past his teammate Dhoni in the all-time list of most runs in an India-Australia battle. The 30-year-old stands fifth with 1403 runs and is the highest among the active players. Sachin however tops the chart with 3077 runs, the only other Indian above Rohit.