Perth, Jan 12 (IANS) Star opener Rohit Sharma slammed a blistering unbeaten 171 to steer India to a massive 309/3 in 50 overs against hosts Australia in the opening game of the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series at the WACA Ground here on Tuesday. Rohit smashed 13 boundaries and seven sixes in his 163-ball knock to bring up his ninth ODI century and the third in Australia against the hosts in style. Rohit was well supported on the other end by Virat Kohi (91), who missed reaching his 24th ODI hundred by just nine runs. With 309/3, the visitors also scored their highest ODI total against Australia at their home after going past 303/4 scored in January 2004 in Brisbane. James Faulkner (2/60) was the pick of the bowlers for Australia.
Opting to bat first on a bouncy WACA track, the visitors got off to a comfortable start as both openers Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan (9) struck the ball positively right from the beginning. Rohit was the initiator as he took on the inexperienced pace bowling attack to score some quick runs inside five overs. But the hosts got the much needed and early breakthrough as Dhawan, trying to go for a hook, found himself caught at long leg by Mitchell Marsh. India were 36/1 in 6.4 overs then. From there on it was a one-sided show by the visitors as incoming batsman Kohli and Rohit took the game to the next level by making batting look easy in front of a good crowd. Going at a good pace with a healthy run rate, India brought up their hundred in the 22nd over. With three pacers, two medium pacers and an irregular spinner in their line-up, Australia were on the back foot as the right-handed pair kept on piling runs and inching closer to individual milestones.
Rohit brought up his ninth ODI century and the third against Australia in Australia in the 37th over to put his team in a commanding spot. His partner Kohli also kept on scoring but fell agonisingly short of his century. Trying to up the ante in the slog overs, he was caught at long-on boundary by Aaron Finch off James Faulkner. India were 243/2 in 44.3 overs. The two added 207 runs for the second wicket. It was the eighth 200-plus run partnerships for India outside Asia after an unbeaten 201 between Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag against New Zealand in Hamilton in 2008-09. The 207-run partnership between Rohit-Kohli was also the highest second wicket partnership for India against Australia after V.V.S. Laxman-Sachin Tendulkar (199) in Indore in March 2001. With the dismissal of Kohli, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (18) came in. Striking one boundary and a six, he helped the team push past the 300-run mark before being out caught off the bowling of Faulkner. Ravindra Jadeja (10) remained unbeaten alongside Rohit.
Scoreboard of the first innings of the opening game of the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series between India and Australia at the WACA Ground here on Tuesday.
Rohit Sharma not out 171
Shikhar Dhawan c Marsh b Hazlewood 9
Virat Kohli c Finch b Faulkner 91
MS Dhoni c Boland b Faulkner 18
Ravindra Jadeja not out 10
Extras (lb 6, w 4) 10
Total (3 wickets; 50 overs) 309
Fall of wickets 1-36 (Dhawan, 6.4 overs), 2-243 (Kohli, 44.3), 3-286 (Dhoni, 48.2)
Josh Hazlewood 10-0-41-1
Joel Paris 8-0-53-0
Mitchell Marsh 9-0-53-0
Scott Boland 10-0-74-0
James Faulkner 10-0-60-2
Glenn Maxwell 3-0-22-0