Bracewell falls short as Gill’s double ton gives India early lead

January 18 2023 by Cricbuzz Staff


Bracewell took just 78 balls to smash 140.

Bracewell took just 78 balls to smash 140.

Shubman Gill became the youngest to notch up a men’s ODI double hundred, setting up India’s 12-run victory over New Zealand with his 149-ball 208 in a high-scoring thriller to kickstart the three-match series, in Hyderabad. Michael Bracewell put up an equally audacious masterclass in the 350 chase but his career-best 140, and a record 162 partnership with Mitchel Santner from a precarious 131/6, just wasn’t enough to help the visitors pull a rabbit out of the hat.

On a track where the odd ball was stopping and the spinners found turn, Gill made batting look easy with his authoritative pulls and sublime driving. With India opting to set a defendable target, Gill and Rohit Sharma made a positive start by cashing in early on Henry Shipley’s struggles to get his lengths right. The pacer was expensive upfront and Rohit made merry with two sixes and a couple of boundaries inside the first-five overs. New Zealand, however, found ways to induce mistakes and break every meaningful partnership India would build.

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After a 38-ball 34, Rohit skied a lofted shot straight to mid-on. Kohli was in and out in a jiffy, going back to defend a length ball from Santner that turned a touch to crash into the off-stump. Bracewell nearly ended Gill’s stay next, if not for a fumble behind the stumps, and the opener went on to slog-sweep later in the over to raise a run-a-ball fifty. But at the other end, Kishan nicked one from Lockie Ferguson behind as India slipped to 110/3.

Undeterred, Suryakumar Yadav collected four boundaries in the first 10 deliveries he faced before the pair showed exemplary running between the wickets to bring up fifty of the partnership in only 38 balls. Gill picked up pace and kept the odd boundary trickling in but Suryakumar, after surviving a stumping scare off Santner, chipped one tamely to him at cover in Darly Mitchell’s next over.

An important wicket against the run of play failed to slow down Gill, who moved onto 99 with a pull before raising the bat for his second successive ton that came in just 87 deliveries. This was Gill’s third ODI hundred in 19 innings, making him the second quickest Indian after Shikhar Dhawan (17) to get there. He also beat Dhawan and Kohli’s shared record (24 innings) to become the quickest Indian to 1000 ODI runs when he reached 109.

Gill got a second reprieve on 122 when Shipley failed to latch on to a return catch from the opener, but a controversial decision from the third umpire to adjudge Pandya bowled – when it wasn’t clear whether it was the ball or Latham’s gloves that nudged the bails off – put an end to their 74-run partnership.

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Like his fifty, Gill brought up the 150 with a six too – smoked well over wide long-on fence. In the brief dry spell that followed New Zealand squeezed in four consecutive boundary-less overs on top of which Shipley picked up his maiden ODI wicket in Washington Sundar and Thakur sacrificed his for Gill after a terrible mix-up. Gill repaid that little show of faith and stepped on the gas with two sixes off Tickner in the 48th over. He reached 200 with the last of the three consecutive sixes off Ferguson in the 49th before eventually perishing having given India a formidable 349/8 on the board.

Bracewell tore down record books too en route his 140. His partnership with Santner was the country’s highest for the seventh wicket, and the highest against India in the format and third best overall. His 57-ball century was New Zealand’s third quickest and only the second fastest against India. He is now only the second player with two ODI hundreds at no. 7, after MS Dhoni. But his 78-ball effort fell agonisingly short of completing the rescue act.

The Kiwis had a mix bag of a start to the tall chase, featuring some individual brilliance but also a post-powerplay collapse of 3 for 19. Devon Conway, who took an early liking to Siraj, fell top-edging a well-directed short ball from the local hero. After a cautious start, even Finn Allen showed signs of returning to peak form – finishing the 11th over from Hardik with 4, 6, 4, 4 and welcoming Kuldeep with yet another boundary to go from 17 off 27 to 39 in the next five balls.

However, Thakur entered the fray to nip that threat in the bud with a short ball, inviting the opener to target the bigger side boundary. Allen took the bait and mistimed his pull triggering the collapse. Nicholls played out a maiden from Kuldeep before completely misreading a wrong’un that turned back in to catch him by surprise, beat the inside edge and hit the off-stump. In his next, the wrist-spinner trapped Daryl Mitchell plumb in front but the allrounder still took it upstairs in hope.

The pressure of dots got the better of Glenn Phillips, who started with a second-ball slog-sweep for six off Kuldeep and perished trying to slog across the line a length ball from Shami in order to break free. The asking rate crept into double digits for the first time in the 27th over, and Bracewell dragged it immediately back with back to back fours of Shami. But just as the partnership seemed to be blooming, Siraj took out New Zealand captain Tom Latham in a near replay of the Conway dismissal.

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Bracewell and Santner then together tore into India’s attack, one boundary at a time, and turned the tables on the hosts, who let their guard down a tad. Washington copped quite the punishment towards the end of an extended opening spell with the former picking him for two boundaries in an over and the latter stepping out to loft one into the sightscreen. Santner also struck three boundaries off Pandya in four balls across his two overs post drinks. Like the only other half-centurion of the game, Bracewell pulled a returning Thakur for six – sandwiched between two fours – to bring up the milestone in just 31 balls.

Bracewell remained the aggressor and his relentless attack against both pace and spin meant he needed only 26 more balls to the century. Even though Santner played a second fiddle and quietly moved to a 40-ball fifty of his own, it was Bracewell’s blinder that helped New Zealand keep up with the asking rate of 10-plus. The tourists had plucked 150 in only 14 overs since the drinks break to move threateningly close to the target.

Siraj tried to suck that momentum off with twin strikes in his final over, including the wicket of Santner who never looked in control of the pull shot. But Bracewell took it right down to the wire with more lusty blows. Thakur, who was under the pump after having messed up his attempted wide yorkers earlier, did eventually hold his nerve well to nail the perfect leg-stump yorker that caught Bracewell plumb in front when New Zealand needed 13 off the final four deliveries. The allrounder opted for a desperate review but the three reds brought relief to the Indians.