Rohit hundred, Rinku fifty power India to 212/4

Rohit hundred, Rinku fifty power India to 212/4

Bengaluru | Skipper Rohit Sharma produced a marvellous, situation-defying hundred, his fifth in T20Is, as India recovered from a top-order meltdown to post a massive 212 for 4 against Afghanistan in the third and final T20I here on Wednesday.

Rohit (121 not out, 69b, 11x4, 8x6) and his perfect sidekick Rinku Singh (69 n,o, 39b, 2x4, 6x6) shared 190 runs for a stellar, unbeaten fifth-wicket stand as India came back from a flaky 22 for four after opting to bat first.

The numbers might suggest a different story, but it was not one of Rohit's downright marauding knocks but he had to restrain himself for a good part of his stay because of the situation his team had dug itself in.

Even Rinku displayed his destructive instincts judiciously and that gradually-building crescendo was the trademark of their alliance.

Rohit even had to bring out a rather rare shot from his arsenal, reverse sweep to unsettle Afghan spinners.

In fact, a reverse sweep off leg-spinner Qais Ahmad fetched him a T20 fifty for the first time since October 2022.

Of course, there were those inevitable and archetypal pulls too that make a Rohit innings such a compelling watch.

The Mumbaikar's on-one-leg pull off pacer Mohammed Saleem that sailed into second tier was an astounding shot.

Soon, the fifty blossomed into a hundred off 63 balls, Rohit's first in T20I since his 111 against the West Indies at Lucknow in 2018, which came through a sliced boundary behind point off pacer Omarzai.

This was also Rohit's highest score in T20Is, surpassing his 118 against Sri Lanka at Indore in 2017.

At the other end, Rinku had the simple job of keeping his end up and the left-hander did that job with maturity.

Rinku, though, vented his belligerence when the opportunity presented itself, such as a flicked six off Saleem over square leg and carried on to register his second T20I fifty as the Afghans wilted.

However, the rest of the Indian top-order did not cover itself in glory as Rohit could not have anticipated such a breakdown from his frontline batters.

Aggression has been the hallmark of India's new T20 template but the approach has its own pitfalls, as it unfolded tonight.

Yashasvi Jaiswal was the first to depart as left-arm pacer Fareed Ahmad cramped him for room, and the opener's top-edged pull was snaffled by Mohammed Nabi in the deep.

Virat Kohli lasted just one ball. Entering the field to a rapturous welcome from a near-packed stadium, Kohli could not negate a climbing delivery from Ahmad, slicing the pull to Ibrahim Zadran just inside the circle.

Sanju Samson, who replaced wicketkeeper batter Jitesh Sharma in the eleven, too lasted just a ball, a mistimed pull off Azmatullah Omarzai ending in the hands of Nabi.

Amidst the pulling frenzy of his top-order colleagues, in-form Shivam Dube wanted to push one down to the vacant third man space, but all he could do was to nurdle the ball to Rahmanullah Gurbaz behind the stumps.

Ahmad ended his first spell with impressive figures of 3-0-10-3 as India ended the power play at a vastly underwhelming 30 for four.

But Rohit, after two failures in the series, found his range at the precise time as India collected 182 runs in the remaining 14 overs and in that 93 came in the last five overs when India batters slipped into overdrive.

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