Bullish Rohit Sharma ready to take on Australia
The 27-year-old right-hander is one of only two current Indian players to have beaten Australia in a limited-overs international at the Sydney Cricket Ground, venue for the semifinal on Thursday.
He was playing the 13th of his 134 ODI matches and batting at No. 5 when he scored 66 in a match-turning 123-run partnership with Sachin Tendulkar in a six-wicket win over Australia in Sydney in March 2008. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also featured in that game, which remains India’s only win at the ground against the Australians in 14 meetings back to 1980.
“It’s been a long time, seven years. I can recall that very well,” he said. “It’s really fresh in my memory because … the great Sachin Tendulkar was batting alongside me, so there is no way I can forget that. It was a very important game.”
It set Sharma him up for prolific record against the top-ranked Australians — he averages 58.7 in 17 ODIs against the Aussies, far superior to his career average of just under 40. He has scored three centuries against the Australians, including 141 not out at Jaipur and 209 at Bangalore in the same series in 2013.
“As a batsman, over the years I’ve learned a lot of things. Certainly batting up the order has changed my game, my approach toward the game and the responsibility,” he said. “I know if I’m batting top of the order there is a huge responsibility and I have to take my team through.
“So every time I go to bat I always think about that. Doesn’t matter if I come on top or not, but at least I do that.”
In the last head-to-head against Australia, he posted 138 in a losing cause at Melbourne in January. The Indians didn’t win a competitive game in Australia for two months leading up to the World Cup, but turned it around at the World Cup, where the defending champions have won seven consecutive matches and bowled out the opposition in every game. Sharma scored a century in the quarterfinal win over Bangladesh, so is coming into form.
Sharma is a dangerous batsman, and capable of getting India away to a rapid start — something that will be needed against four-time champion Australia. And he’s prolific, having set a world record 264 from 173 balls, including 33 boundaries and nine sixes against Sri Lanka last year.
“I think records are there to be broken. I don’t wish my record to be broken. But, look, every batsman would want to hit a big score,” he said in comments translated from Hindi.
“To score 200 runs is not easy, it is a very tough job. Even when I scored 264 I was told (by people) that you should have scored 300. Not just in India, everywhere, people’s expectations are very high.”
With a pro-India crowd at the SCG, and with a spot in the final against New Zealand up for grabs, there’s no doubt he’ll be aiming to score a lot of runs, and quickly, against Australia.
The final is scheduled for Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.