Sharma's double ton lights up Bangalore

Bangalore, Nov 2 (IANS) Befitting the festival of lights, Diwali, dashing Indian opener Rohit Sharma Saturday set the M. Chinnaswamy cricket stadium on fire here with a flurry of 16 sixes and scored a double century (209) against Australia in the last and final One-day International (ODI) of the series.

Put in to bat after Australian skipper George Bailey won the toss and elected to field, the in-form Sharma became the third cricketer to score a double century in the one-day format after compatriots Sachin Tendulkar and former opener Virender Shewag.

Incidentally, only Indian batsmen hold the world record of scoring double centuries in the 50-over version of the game.

Tendulkar remained 200 not out in an ODI at Nagpur Feb 24, 2010 playing against South Africa, while Shewag holds the highest record of 219 scored Dec 8, 2011 at Indore.

Sharma's innings was studded with 12 fours and 16 sixes. It was a record for most sixes in an innings. Of the 19 sixes hit all-round the stadium during India's innings, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni accounted for two while Yuvraj Singh struck one.

Sharma's scintillating knock of 209 came in 158 balls. He was also involved in two big partnerships, including a whopping 167 for the six wicket with Dhoni and 112 with other opener Shikhar Dhawan, who made 60 in 57 balls with nine fours but no six.

In fact, in the second six of Dhoni, executed by a helicopter shot, a trademark of the Indian wicketkeeper, the ball went over the stadium roof from long-on, forcing the umpires to get a new ball for resuming play.

Sharma has been in and out of the Indian team but his fortunes have turned around dramatically since he has started opening. Along with Shikhar Dhawan, the Mumbai right-hander has cemented the opening slot in ODIs.

Sharma has scored 589 runs in his last 10 innings, averaging 84.14. Before the start of this match, he had scored 2,840 runs in 107 matches at an average of 34.63. The 26-year-old is yet to make his Test debut.

"Sharma's innings was fantastic and worth the money I paid to watch the match. He played amazing shots and some of his sixes were incredible. Though he took time to settle, it was exciting to watch him to go after the Aussie attack in the slog overs, which took the Indian score to a commanding 383 for 6," George Cherian, a techie, told IANS in the pavilion.

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