Gill and Siraj shine as India survive Bracewell onslaught in a thriller in Hyderabad
ODI cricket came alive last night at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium as India and New Zealand played out an absolute cracker of a contest that would go down to the wire before the hosts eventually seized the bragging rights, thanks to an electric final over from Shardul Thakur.
On a surface that had so much to offer to the batters, Rohit Sharma won the toss and opted to bat first. The Indian captain switched gears early in the game to lead the battery while Shubman Gill would occasionally chime in with a handful of boundaries to keep the momentum going.
However, Rohit’s early salvo would come to an unexpected halt as he was undone by Blair Tickner’s change of pace, holing out to Daryl Mitchell. Much to India’s woes, the skipper’s departure would be soon followed by a couple of quick wickets as Virat Kohli and Ishan Kishan would do very little to showcase their flair as India started stuttering at 110 for the loss of 3.
Shubman Gill’s initial jitters were off shortly and the opener started firing on all cylinders, dazzling the hapless visitors with a rampant show of his pyrotechnics. Surykumar Yadav played good company while Hardik Pandya was in equally decent touch unless an unfortunate dismissal cut his innings short.
With the tail to follow, Shubman Gill took matters into his own hands and after a brief period of lull, he went ballistic that saw him peppering the Kiwi bowlers mercilessly beyond the ropes. En route to his double-century, he would only smash maximums, leaving the Kiwi bowlers in utter disarray. India managed to pile up a staggering 349 on the board, thanks to a ginormous 208 from Gill coupled with significant cameos from Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav.
The Indian bowlers got off to a phenomenal start with Mohammed Siraj being the chief conductor of the early chaos wreaked by the hosts as he removed Devon Conway for a paltry 10. Despite a decent stand between Henry Nicholls and Finn Allen, the latter failed to sustain his momentum and Shardul Thakur got rid of the dangerous looking Finny.
Kuldeep Yadav would deal another crucial blow as he foxed his way through the defences of Henry Nicholls, leaving New Zealand staring at a steep cliff to scale when all the chips were down. The following three got off to decent starts but the Indian bowlers were quick to apply the brakes again as Siraj and Kuldeep claimed a brace each to leave New Zealand stumbling at 131 for 6.
Just when it felt that it was all over for the visitors, the number one ODI team in the world found an unlikely saviour in Michael Bracewell who was aptly tagged along by a resilient Mitchell Santner as the duo put up 162 runs for the 7th wicket. Bracewell carried forth his rampant onslaught while Mitchell Santner seemed in total control of proceedings as the Indians had a hard time trying to stall the run-cascade.
It was eventually RCB quick, Mohammed Siraj who would find the breakthrough as he forced Mitchell Santner into a mishit and followed it with an absolute ripper that would fireball through the defences of Henry Shipley to send his poles for a walk.
With minimal help from Lockie Ferguson, Bracewell still managed to keep the Kiwi ship afloat but Hardik Pandya would return to remove the expressman. With 20 required off the final over, Shardul Thakur was launched to the stands off his first ball by a fearless Bracewell.
However, the medium-pacer was soon back to his element as he would produce the perfect yorker that would speed itself and kiss Bracewell’s pads right in front of the stumps as the review would show that the ball would have gone on to rattle the middle-stump, imparting a hard-fought yet remarkable win for the Men in Blue.
Shubman Gill was handed over the Player of the Match award for his blistering double-century while Michael Bracewell left the yard with a smile on his face, that saw two juggernauts of the format presenting a thrilling clash for the fans to savour till the very end.