Shubman Gill became the fifth Indian batter to smash a double hundred in the 50-over format but Michael Bracewell’s 78-ball 140 almost took the game away from India. Gill slammed 208 off 149 deliveries, studded with 19 fours and nine maximums and helped his team take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
The best thing about Gill’s knock was none of the other Indian batter scored more than 34 runs. The wickets kept falling but the right-handed opener kept the scoreboard ticking and never allowed New Zealand to dictate terms in the first innings. The 23-year-old said it’s important to put some pressure on the bowlers when they are on top and that’s exactly what he did.
“I was waiting eagerly to go out and do what I want to do. With wickets falling, at times I wanted to unleash and I'm glad I could do it at the end. Sometimes when the bowler is on top, you need to make them feel pressure,” said Gill at the post-match presentation ceremony in Hyderabad on Wednesday (January 18).
“Need to avoid dot balls, show some intent, and hit hard into the gaps. Which is what I was doing. Wasn't really thinking of 200, but once I hit sixes in the 47th over, I did feel that I could. Before that, I was playing what was coming to me.”
Gill and Ishan Kishan are both fighting for that opening spot and now both of them have a double century in this format. Kishan did that in the final ODI in Bangladesh, but batted at No. 4 in this match. “He (Kishan) is one of my best mates. I was there when he scored his ODI double hundred and it was special,” said Gill.
“It feels nice when you are wanting to do something and it is coming off on a regular basis. Definitely a sense of satisfaction. It (double ton) has sunk in pretty well. The game went much closer than I expected.”
Indian skipper Rohit Sharma heaped heavy praise on Gill and said that’s why they persisted with him against Sri Lanka despite Kishan smoking a double ton in his last ODI. “He (Gill) is going really well. The form he was in, we wanted to make use of it and that's why we backed him in the SL series. Free-flowing batter and it's quite exciting to watch,” said Rohit.
The Men in Blue hammered 349/8 in their 50 overs but could have easily lost the game if not for Mohammed Siraj. The right-arm seamer claimed 4/46 in a high-scoring affair and also bowled two maiden overs. He was the only one against whom Bracewell had a strike rate of under 100 - 83.3. Siraj was the point of difference between the two sides.
“Siraj has been brilliant, not just in this game but in the red-ball, T20 format, and now ODIs. Really good to see what he does with the ball. Executing what he wants to do and he is very clear about his plans. Which is how it should be,” said Rohit.
New Zealand were 131/6 at one stage but that’s when Bracewell and Mitchell Santner joined hands and put on 162 runs for the seventh wicket to bring New Zealand back into the game. Bracewell was the last batter to be dismissed in the final over as the visitors fell short by only 12 runs.
“To be honest, the way he (Bracewell) was batting and the way it came on to the bat nicely, it was clean ball-striking. We knew that if we bowled well, we would be okay unless we really slipped up with the ball. Unfortunately, that's what happened. I did say at the toss that I'd like to see us challenge ourselves, not quite the situation I expected but that's how it is.”