The legend of Shikhar Dhawan in ICC tournaments continued to grow as his stylish hundred formed the cornerstone of a fantastic batting display that powered India to a commanding 352 for five against Australia in World Cup.
The left-handed opener's 17th ODI hundred (117 off 109 balls) was well complemented by fellow opener Rohit Sharma's 57 off 70 balls with the openers raising a stand of 127.
Ever consistent skipper Virat Kohli (82 off 77 balls) played an effective knock and shared a 92-run stand with Dhawan. Kohli's sixes off Mitchell Starc -- over long-on and extra cover -- stood out.
The last 10 overs yielded India 116 runs, primarily due to Hardik Pandya's whirlwind knock of 48 from 27 balls and Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 27-run cameo.
Floater Pandya played in a manner only he can while Dhoni did his bit in putting the finishing touches, which included a six over square leg off Starc.
The Indian openers played out a good opening spell from Starc (1/74) and Pat Cummins (1/55), who pitched it up and repeatedly beat the bat.
What worked brilliantly for Indian batsmen was the manner in which they planned which of the bowlers they wanted to go after.
They took 157 runs from 20 overs bowled by Marcus Stoinis (2/62 in 7 overs), Adam Zampa (0/50 in 6 overs) and Glenn Maxwell (0/45 in 7 overs).
When Rohit was dropped on 2 by Nathan Coulter-Nile at square leg off Starc, the Indian openers became more cautious.
Dhawan, who has a stupendous record at the Oval ground where he averages over 120, waited for Coulter-Nile. Three boundaries in the eighth over eased the pressure.
The hero of Australia's match against West Indies, didn't have the pace to trouble the Indians and he bowled short enough to be cut and pulled by both the players.
Rohit hooked him for a six while Dhawan played some fabulous cut shots.
Leg spinner Zampa who was impressive against India in the last series, was targeted from the onset as both the openers used their feet to perfection. Once they started using their feet, the leg-spinner started dropping it short and Dhawan would rock on the backfoot to punish him.
Rohit was subdued but it didn't matter as the Delhi southpaw's 16 hits on the day set the tone.
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