Shubman Gill produced a magnificent display of batsmanship to score a double century and propel India to a massive 349/8 against New Zealand in the first ODI of the three-match series at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, here on Wednesday.
On a two-paced pitch, where no other Indian batter crossed 35, Gill dished out an opening masterclass against a quality New Zealand bowling line-up to score 208 off 149 balls, laced with 19 fours and nine sixes.
On his way to becoming the youngest player to score a double century in the ODI format and fifth to do so from India, Gill had to overcome early jitters to be a dominating force in the innings. Be it in the first power-play or in the death overs, Gill was smashing boundaries against pacers and spinners.
Gill reached his first fifty in 52 balls, before reaching his century off 87 balls. He then went from 100 to 150 in 35 balls, and the jump from 150 to 200 happened in just 23 balls, with his overall strike-rate at 139.6, taking India to nearly reaching 350.
Electing to bat first, Rohit Sharma was severe on an erring Henry Shipley, hitting two fours and as many sixes, of which a well-timed lofted drive going over cover for a maximum was the standout. Gill, on the other hand, wasn't at ease before leaning into a drive off Lockie Ferguson in the sixth over got him going.
Gill easily took on Blair Tickner, pulling him twice over mid-wicket to bring up India's fifty in 8.4 overs. The 60-run opening stand ended in the 13th over when Rohit miscued a loft, giving mid-on a simple catch off Tickner. But Gill continued his fluency against spin, flicking and using his feet well to take boundaries off Mitchell Santner, while taking a brace of boundaries against Shipley.
Gill could have been out to off-spin of Michael Bracewell if captain Tom Latham hadn't missed catching and stumping chance in the 19th over. On the fifth ball of the over, he got to his fifty in style with a slog-sweep dispatched over deep mid-wicket for six.
But he was losing partners from the other end as Santner, the left-arm spinner, went past Virat Kohli's outside edge, getting enough turn to hit the top of his off stump in the 16th over. Four overs later, Ishan Kishan, playing for the first time since slamming 210 against Bangladesh, edged a short of length delivery straight to the keeper off Ferguson.
Gill found a partner in Suryakumar Yadav, who produced exquisite timing in his punch, drive, flick against pacers while sweeping against Bracewell to collect four boundaries. The young opener clipped and drove well against Tickner and Daryl Mitchell for boundaries before pouncing on a short ball from Santner by pulling over mid-wicket for a one-bounce four.
Mitchell broke the 65-run partnership by having Suryakumar to drive on the up and chipping straight to a leaping cover fielder in the 29th over. Gill raced to 99 by using depth of crease to pull Santner off the backfoot over mid-wicket for six, before getting to his third ODI century in 87 balls.
Gill continued to use his feet for driving against spinners while whipping and pulling off pacers with disdain. He was given a reprieve in the 38th over when Shipley couldn't hold on to a sharp caught and bowled chance. Gill rubbed salt on the wound with a quality off-drive for a four on the very next ball.
His superb show against spinners continued when he pulled Santner off backfoot over mid-wicket for six and then reached his 150 by dancing down the pitch to swing Bracewell over wide long-on with the turn for a humongous maximum.
Giving him some company was Hardik Pandya, who hit three boundaries in a 38-ball 28, before missing a Mitchell delivery while trying to cut off him in the 40th over, as replays showed bail on off stump came off after the keeper collected it cleanly, ending a 74-run partnership.
Washington Sundar didn't last long, trapped lbw after missing the flick to become Shipley's first ODI scalp. A mix up at the non-striker's end saw Shardul Thakur sacrifice himself for Gill in the 47th over. Gill broke a run of four boundary-less overs by smashing sixes over leaping long-on and square leg off Tickner in the 48th over.
Gill reached his double century by smacking a hat-trick of sixes over fine leg, long-off and straight down the ground in the 49th over. He would hit another six over long-on in the final over, before falling for 208 as deep mid-wicket fielder took a screamer of a catch.
Brief Scores: India 349/8 in 50 overs (Shubman Gill 208, Rohit Sharma 34; Daryl Mitchell 2/30, Henry Shipley 2/74) against New Zealand.