Indore, Jan 24 (IANS) Fantastic centuries by Shubman Gill (112 off 78) and Rohit Sharma (101 off 85) along with Hardik Pandya’s vital fifty (54 off 38) powered India to a massive 385/9 in the third and final ODI against New Zealand at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, here on Tuesday.
Gill and Rohit put on an excellent exhibition of batting by hitting sixes and boundaries all around the park, stitching a stand of 212 runs for the opening wicket. The likes of Virat Kohli (36), Ishan Kishan (17) and Suryakumar Yadav (14) got starts but couldn’t convert them to big scores, otherwise, India could have scored even more.
Put into bat first, Gill and Rohit gave India a strong start with short-sized boundaries and a flat pitch making their job a bit easier. The New Zealand bowlers were tidy enough for the first five-six overs. However, with the ball hardly doing anything in the air or off the deck, it was just a matter of time before India pressed the accelerator pedal.
In the 8th over, Gill cut, drove and steered Lockie Ferguson all around the park as India collected 22 in a single over. Soon, Rohit also joined the fun by pulling and lofting Duffy into the stands to score 17 runs in the over as the Indian opening pair added 82/0 in the first Power-play.
Even after the Power-play, both batters continued their aggressive approach and completed their respective half-centuries. While Gill scored his half-century in just 33 balls, Rohit reached the milestone with a six against Mitchell Santner, scoring his fifty off 41 deliveries.
In search of a wicket, New Zealand skipper Latham tried different options in Daryl Mitchell, Santner but it continued to rain fours and sixes in Indore as Gill and Rohit showed their batting classing, scoring their 150-plus stand in the 18th over. By dealing in boundaries and sixes, both Rohit and Gill raced towards their 90s very soon and even were competing with each to get to that magical three-figure mark first.
Eventually, it was Rohit Sharma, who won the race and brought up his long-awaited 30th ODI century — his first ton in 50-over cricket since January 2020 — in 83 deliveries with a single in the 26th over. Gill also didn’t have to wait longer as he hit a boundary in the same over to score his century in 72 balls — his third hundred in his last four ODIs — becoming a run-machine in the format.
At that time, it felt as if India could even target 450 but New Zealand did well to put a few brakes on the hosts’ scoring rate by picking wickets at regular intervals.
After his milestone, Rohit couldn’t continue his innings longer and was bowled by Michael Bracewell while trying to slog across the line. Like Rohit, Gill also got out soon after his century, with Blair Tickner providing the visitors with an important breakthrough.
Virat Kohli looked in fine touch, played a cameo (27-ball 36) and also strung together a partnership of 38 with Ishan Kishan (17) before a mix-up saw the latter being run out. When Duffy removed Kohli, the track slowed down a touch as New Zealand’s into the wicket bowling, alongside variations in pace resulted in the wickets of Suryakumar Yadav (14) and Washington Sundar (9), who once again wasted their opportunities in absence of Shreyas Iyer and Axar Patel.
At that juncture, India needed a partnership and Shardul Thakur and Hardik Pandya did exactly that by playing various ranges of shots — lap, slice, pull and slogs. They strung together a timely stand of 54 in just over five overs to lift the dressing room again and ensure India finish with a total of 385/9 in 50 overs.
Blair Tickner (3-76) and Jacob Duffy (3-100) were the Michael Bracewell (1/51) were the wicket-takers for Black Caps.
Brief scores: India 385/9 in 50 overs (Shubman Gill 112, Rohit Sharma 101; Blair Tickner 3-76, Jacob Duffy 3-100) vs New Zealand