Shubman Gill shined under the skies of Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in front of 31,187 spectators to become the youngest player to score a double century in ODIs, before Michael Bracewell gave India a mighty scare with his sensational knock almost helping New Zealand chase down 350.
But at the fag end, he ran out of support and eventually became the last man to fall for the Blackcaps with four balls left in the chase, giving India a 12-run victory and 1-0 lead in the three-match series, here on Wednesday.
On a two-paced pitch, where no other Indian batter crossed 35, Gill, seen as future leader of the Indian batting line-up, dished out an opening masterclass in making 208 off 149 balls, laced with 19 fours and nine sixes.
Becoming the fifth Indian player to get a double century in ODIs, Gill was a dominating force in the hosts’ innings. Be it in the first power-play or in the death overs, he was smashing boundaries against pacers and spinners in a pristine show of batsmanship.
Gill reached his first fifty in 52 balls, before reaching his century off 87 balls. He then went from 100 to 150 in 35 balls, and the jump from 150 to 200 happened in just 23 balls, with his overall strike-rate at 139.6, taking India to 349/8.
In reply, New Zealand were down and out on 131/6, Bracewell hit 12 fours and ten sixes in his 78-ball knock, while adding 162 off just 102 balls for the seventh wicket with Mitchell Santner, who made 57 off 45 balls.
India were put into massive pressure and it needed wickets from local lad Mohammed Siraj, who took 4/46, apart from Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur taking out a wicket each at the end to give a sigh of relief to the hosts’, with New Zealand all out for 337.
Gill wasn’t at ease initially, before leaning into a drive off Lockie Ferguson in the sixth over got him going. He easily took on Blair Tickner, pulling him twice over mid-wicket to bring up India’s fifty in 8.4 overs.
Though Rohit Sharma fell in the 13th over after miscuing a loft, Gill continued his fluency against spin, flicking and using his feet well to take boundaries off Mitchell Santner, while taking a brace of boundaries against Henry Shipley.
He could have been out on 45 off Bracewell if captain Tom Latham hadn’t missed catching and stumping chances in the 19th over. On the fifth ball of the over, he got to his fifty in style with a slog-sweep dispatched over deep mid-wicket for six.
But he was losing partners from the other end as Santner got enough turn to hit the top of Virat Kohli’s off stump while Ishan Kishan, playing for the first time since slamming 210 against Bangladesh, edged a short of length delivery straight to Latham off Ferguson.
The young opener clipped and drove well against Tickner and Daryl Mitchell for boundaries before pouncing on a short ball from Santner by pulling over mid-wicket for a one-bounce four. Gill found a partner in Suryakumar Yadav, sharing a 65-run partnership, before the latter chipped straight to cover off Daryl Mitchell in the 29th over.
Gill raced to 99 by using depth of crease to pull Santner off the backfoot over mid-wicket for six, before getting to his century in 87 balls. He continued to use his feet for driving against spinners while whipping and pulling off pacers with disdain. He was given a reprieve in the 38th over when Shipley couldn’t hold on to a sharp caught and bowled chance.
He rubbed salt on the wound with a quality off-drive for a four on the very next ball. His superb show against spinners continued when he pulled Santner off backfoot over mid-wicket for six and then reached his 150 by dancing down the pitch to swing Bracewell over wide long-on with the turn for a humongous maximum.
Giving him company was Hardik, who hit three boundaries in a 38-ball 28, before missing a Mitchell delivery while trying to cut off him in the 40th over, as replays showed bail on off stump came off after the keeper collected it cleanly, ending a 74-run partnership, followed by Washington and Shardul falling quickly.
Gill broke a run of four boundary-less overs by smashing sixes over leaping long-on and square leg off Tickner in the 48th over. Starting the 49th over at 182, Gill reached his double century by smacking a hat-trick of sixes over fine leg, long-off and straight down the ground in the 49th over, roaring and waving his bat in delight as the crowd chanted his name.
He would duly acknowledge the standing ovation with a bow. Gill would hit another six over long-on in the final over, before falling for 208 as deep mid-wicket fielder took a screamer of a catch.
In defence of 349, Siraj, Kuldeep, Shami and Shardul wrecked the Blackcaps, leaving them at 131/6 in 28.4 overs. Bracewell slashed, pulled and swept well against spinners while Santner gained momentum by dispatching anything overpitched and short to the boundary rope off Hardik and Washington.
Shardul was brought back in the 37th over and Bracewell hammered him over extra cover for four, before getting his fifty with a pull over mid-wicket for six. He continued to be severe on Shardul and Kuldeep, getting his boundaries with ease, with Santner joining in the fun too. Bracewell then hit Washington for sixes over long-off and wide long-on as New Zealand needed 103 off the last ten overs.
Mohammed Shami was brought back to end the partnership, but Bracewell moved across to scoop over fine leg for six. He then brought up his century in 58 balls with a six smoked cleanly over long-on off Shami in the 43rd over. Santner crunched three boundaries off Shami and Siraj to get his fifty.
Siraj brought India back in the match as Santner miscued a pull to deep mid-wicket and on the very next ball, got one to nip back in to rattle Shipley’s stumps in the 46th over. But Bracewell was standing tall, swinging Hardik for two sixes in the 47th over, before taking a four and six off Shami in the 48th over.
Hardik kept hopes of an Indian win high by getting Ferguson to hole out to long-off in the 49th over, conceding just four runs. With 20 needed off the final over, Bracewell hammered a short ball from Shardul over wide long-on for six. After a wide, Shardul finished things for India by trapping Bracewell plumb lbw with a dipping yorker. As DRS confirmed the ball hitting the stumps, India took a sigh of relief.
Brief Scores: India 349/8 in 50 overs (Shubman Gill 208, Rohit Sharma 34; Daryl Mitchell 2/30, Henry Shipley 2/74) beat New Zealand 337 all out in 49.2 overs (Michael Bracewell 140, Mitchell Santner 57, Mohammed Siraj 4/46, Kuldeep Yadav 2/43)