After being an under-performing asset in the Indian middle-order for several years, Rohit Sharma has blossomed into a blazing opening batsman.

For the last several years, Sharma's international performance failed to rise above mediocrity. However, his elevation as an opening batsman earlier this year seems to have worked wonders for the 30-year-old Mumbaikar, who emerged as the Man of the Series.

On Saturday at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, Sharma's brilliance was on display as the right-hander slammed a sparkling 158-ball 209 to bulldoze his way into record books, becoming only the third player in the history of one-day cricket to score a double hundred.

Sharma admitted that he never expected to score a double hundred although the thought crossed his mind in the latter part of his innings. "In the last 3-4 matches, 350-360 was not a comfortable score. Our plan was to score as many as possible. When I got to 180, I thought 200 was a possibility, but I had to maintain the tempo and it turned out nicely," said Sharma.

Incidentally, Sharma was at the non-striker's end when Virender Sehwag cracked a record 149-ball 219 against West Indies in Indore in 2011 to shatter Sachin Tendulkar's 147-ball 200 (against West Indies in Gwalior in 2010).

Relishing his new role as opening batsman, Sharma admitted that it was indeed a big challenge. "When you open, you get a lot of opportunities to score, but when you bat in the middle-order, sometimes you don't get to bat that much. I am really relishing this new role given to me. It is really exciting at the same time, it's challenging too," he said.

"When given the responsibility, you obviously change as an individual. As an opener, you set the platform and lay the foundation," Sharma said of his elevation as an opener.

During his record-smashing innings, Sharma's 50 came off 71 balls while the next 50 off 43 and the last 109 runs off just 44 balls. In the process, he smacked a record 16 sixes to better Shane Watson's record of 15 in an ODI innings. "Every cricketer's goal is to get as many runs as possible. When all these things happen along the way, it's a bonus. But the heartening factor was we won the series," he said.

Sharma, who is in the Indian team for the forthcoming Test series against the West Indies, said he would bat in the middle-order. "I will only play in the middle order for I have been selected as a middle-order batsman. Not sure what will happen in the future."

Rohit Sharma More Stills

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