Shubman Gill served yet another reminder that he has come to stay at the top of the batting order, smashing a superb double century (208, 149b, 19×4, 9×6) and local boy Mohammed Siraj returned the best figures at this venue (four for 46) to help India pull off a 12-run win over New Zealand for which Michael Bracewell cracked a magnificent century (140, 78b, 12×4, 10×6) in the first of the three-match Mastercard ODI series at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Wednesday.
Chasing 350, the Kiwis struggled at the top despite opener Finn Allen’s breezy knock. Fast bowler Mohammed Siraj, playing his first ODI at home, induced opener Devon Conway to pull straight to the fielder in the deep in the sixth over, and a similar strategy sent back the Kiwi captain Tom Latham.
Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav bowled a teasing line and length in the first spell to pick up two wickets and soon the dangerous Glenn Phillips was bowled by Shami to make it 110 for five in 24.3 overs.
When an early finish was expected, the seventh-wicket pair of Bracewell and Mitchell Santner, which put on 162 off 102 balls with breathtaking strokeplay, tested the Indian attack and threatened to take the game away from India before Siraj came back in the 46th over to strike a double blow — removing Santner and re-arranging the stumps of Henry Shipley. Siraj’s figures were the best at this venue, surpassing Umesh Yadav’s haul of four for 53 against Sri Lanka in 2014.
Earlier, it was Shubman Gill show all the way, batting with authority and a touch of class. The way he paced the innings to become the youngest ever double centurion in ODIs was just brilliant.
The 23-year-old opener, playing his 19th ODI, scored his third hundred overall, was lucky to survive twice — once on 45 when captain Tom Latham missed a stumping chance off off-break bowler Michael Bracewell and then on 124 when pacer Henry Shipley failed to latch on to a difficult return catch.
Gill hit six sixes in all and no fours from 147 till he reached the magical double century — including three huge ones on the trot in the 49th over by pacer Lockie Ferguson — to a standing ovation was a fitting tribute to him. He recorded the highest individual score at the venue (previous best 175 by Sachin Tendulkar against the Aussies in 2009).
Earlier, captain Rohit Sharma tried to loft pacer Blair Tickner over the bowler’s head only to end up giving a simple catch to mid-on.
Virat Kohli was greeted to lusty cheers but disappointed the fans — bowled by left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner — as the ball slipped past the backfoot, defensive push.
After Suryakumar Yadav’s soft dismissal, it was Gill who held the centrestage, with his second consecutive century in ODIs, following the one against Sri Lanka in Thiruvananthapuram last week.