In what turned out to be a run-fest at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, the 212-run opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, alongside Shardul Thakur’s all-round effort, helped India clean-sweep the three-match ODI series versus New Zealand 3-0 and also top the Men’s ODI rankings. The visitors managed 295 in pursuit of a monstrous target of 386.
New Zealand needed a quick start but they didn’t get one as Finn Allen chopped Hardik Pandya’s short of a length ball onto the stumps; paying the price for hanging back in the crease. Devon Conway (100-ball 138) and Henry Nicholls, though, counter-attacked with a 106-run second wicket stand. The duo brought out the scoop, pull, slog-sweep, alongside using their feet to put some pressure back on the Indian bowlers.
Just in the nick of time, Kuldeep Yadav trapped Nicholls in front with the skidder. Despite losing his batting partner, Conway continued to play with freedom, bringing out the slog-sweep, reverse sweep and occasionally chipping down the track to counter Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. At 184 for 2, in 25 overs, New Zealand were very much in the hunt. But Thakur bowled a game-breaking spell to put India in pole position.
Thakur employed the cross-seam short ball to remove both Daryl Mitchell and the dangerous Glenn Phillips. He also dismissed Tom Latham with an attempted knuckle ball. In the 32nd over, New Zealand were dealt a hammer blow as they lost their centurion, Conway, chipping Umran Malik to Rohit at midwicket. Michael Bracewell (26) and Mitchell Santner made useful contributions but the duo couldn’t repeat their heroics from the first ODI as the visitors were eventually bowled out in the 42nd over.
Earlier, on a small ground, and in batting-friendly conditions, Gill and Rohit had put on a wonderful exhibition. In just the fifth over of the innings, Gill and Rohit cracked a six each – hook and loft – to give India a quick start. In the eighth over, Gill proceeded to cut, drive and steer Lockie Ferguson as 22 runs were added. Rohit matched Gill stroke-for-stroke, pulling and lofting Jacob Duffy.
India reached their 100 in just the 13th over. Ultimately, in the 26th over, Rohit completed his hundred. In the same over, Gill too reached the landmark. At that time, it felt as if India could even target 450 but New Zealand did well to put a few brakes on hosts’ scoring rate by making regular incisions. Rohit looked to slog across the line and was castled by Michael Bracewell while Blair Tickner dismissed Gill.
Virat Kohli did play a cameo (27-ball 36) before falling to Duffy. By then, the track too had slowed down a touch as New Zealand’s into-the-surface bowling alongside variations in pace resulted in the wickets of Suryakumar Yadav and Washington Sundar. Shardul and Hardik Pandya then strung together a timely alliance of 54 in just over five overs to ensure New Zealand would have to chase down a daunting target.