Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane are like chalk and cheese. Rohit, the charismatic and flamboyant batter that is worshipped around India, while Rahane, the shy, timid, hardworking accumulator of runs who continues to fly under the radar. In coloured clothing, Rohit is the superstar, in whites it's Rahane who is the luminary.
India's Rohit Sharma with Ajinkya Rahane during their 124-run opening stand in the fifth and final ODI against Australia at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Jamtha, Nagpur yesterday. India lost only the Bangalore game of the series. Pic/PTI
Born 404 days apart from each other, they have been the nucleus of the Mumbai batting for a decade. Junior age teams, Ranji Trophy outfits and then the national team, the pair have created their own path and destiny. Despite playing so much together, never have they looked so united. Yesterday, the pair enjoyed a century opening stand for the third successive occasion — 106, 139 and 124. India ended up winning by seven wickets. It is strange that they have never gelled as well before in any format of the game. Perhaps, it's got something to do with their contrasting styles or the roles designated to them.
In this series, they have sung the same tune. Rahane has understood his fellow Mumbaikar perfectly – attacking from the outset and letting Rohit settle into the innings. Similarly, Rohit has been able to accelerate to take the pressure off Rahane after the initial power play. Rohit's ability to sit back and pull short balls while Rahane's crisp driving off the front foot meant the Australian bowlers just have not been able to find the ideal length. Add to that, the pair have been able to rotate the strike fluently which indicates that the Australians have failed to build pressure via dot balls. Throughout the series, Rahane and Rohit have never looked to compete against each other. They have nurtured each other through the tough periods. Yesterday, Rohit had looked frustrated after failing to score from the first 13 balls. Rahane immediately Rahane rushed down the pitch to calmed him down.
Silken touch Next ball, Rohit punched a lovely off-drive and never looked back. Rahane has not looked back since the start of the series. Between them they have helped deliver a crushing 4-1 series win for India. India and Australia will now play a three-match Twenty20 International series. The games will be held in Ranchi (Oct 7), Guwahati (Oct 10) and Uppal (Oct 13).
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