Three years ago, Rohit Sharma registered the highest score in the history of One-Day Internationals (ODIs) at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata when he hammered 264 against Sri Lanka. He became the first batsman to hit two double tons in ODIs. Fast forward to 2017, he has come back to haunt the islanders. This time leading from the front and registering his third double ton in Mohali. No batsman has registered two double tons in ODIs, Rohit now has three.
He seems to have made it a habit of conjuring double tons in ODIs. And the ease with which he constructs his innings is just befuddling. Against Sri Lanka in Mohali, the team was under pressure, especially after the hammering they received in Dharamsala. The top order had come under the scanner after failing to counter the moving ball. However, at the PCA Stadium, Rohit showed exemplary patience to start off, paced his innings to perfection and then went for the kill. It was a strong response that reflected in his fist-pump celebration. Rohit hammered 13 fours and 12 sixes enroute 208 off 153 balls.
It wasn't until 2010 that the first ever double century was registered in men's cricket when Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to achieve the milestone, against South Africa. Rohit has amassed three double tons, which in some way feels surreal.
Rohit, the limited-overs batsman, has undergone massive transformation. He's become a six-hitting machine. The lazy elegance fraught with innate aggression make him a pure joy to watch.
And with this knack of hitting double-tons added to his arsenal, Rohit has become the fire-breathing dragon in international cricket.
It all started back in 2013, when Rohit took on the Australian bowling to notch up his first double-century in Bengaluru.
This was the innings that propelled him up the pedestal. Before the series, he had just two centuries from over 100 ODIs. After a difficult 2012, he was just starting to get into the groove with solid performances up the order in the Champions Trophy in England and an unbeaten 141 in Jaipur. He started off cautiously, with his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan taking the aggressive route at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The pair added 112 before Dhawan departed. It took Rohit 71 balls to bring up his fifty. The Mumbai batsman then mixed caution with aggression really well to bring up his century off 114 balls, in the 38th over. And then, Moises Henriques committed the cardinal sin of dropping Rohit, on 120. Rohit absolutely went on a rampage from then on as he plundered a mind-numbing 82 off the next 30 balls, propelling India to 383/6 from 50 overs.
Rohit was caught at deep square leg off the last ball of the innings, but not before amassing 209 off 158 balls with 12 fours and a staggering 16 sixes. He had scored his second hundred off just 42 balls. This was the innings that had a significant impact on a topsy-turvey ODI career.
A year later, it was Sri Lanka's turn to face the wrath of Rohit, and this time, the Mumbai batsman went one step ahead to shatter multiple records.
This was the period when Rohit was going through a tough time with constant injuries. And with Ajinkya Rahane doing well in his absence, Rohit's critics had started to raise their ugly heads.
At the Eden Gardens, against Sri Lanka, Rohit was playing his first ODI in 10 weeks. He started off in a typical Rohit way. By now, he had developed this typical theme. He played out a maiden off the first over he faced from Angelo Mathews.
He slowly got in the the groove and scored his fifty off 71 balls. The accelerator was pressed in the 30th over when India opted for the batting Powerplay, with Rohit speeding to 45 off 21 balls.
He went berserk from there as he clobbered 141 from the next 61 balls. It was absolute carnage as Rohit simply toyed with the bowling. He even walked across and paddled Kulasekara casually over deep mid-wicket for a six. India posted 404/5. Sri Lanka couldn't ever cross Rohit's score as they were bundled out for 251. The 'Hitman' was back with a bang.
When Rohit is in the zone, he is just unstoppable, something that Sri Lanka would be familiar with, having been at the receiving end twice.
Apart from his three double hundreds, he has two scores of 150 or more; one coming against South Africa in 2015 in Kanpur, and the other an unbeaten 171 against Australia in Perth, a testament to his hunger for big scores.
With his sublime 208 in Mohali, Rohit, the magician, took another humongous step towards greatness in ODIs. He was slow to start off the blocks when he made his ODI debut in 2007, but with patience, perseverance, talent and determination, the flight is reaching great heights now.