Opener Shubman Gill on Wednesday announced himself as an all-format player with his maiden Twenty20 international century to help India crush New Zealand by 168 runs in a series-clinching victory.
Gill smashed an unbeaten 126 off 63 balls to steer the team to 234-4 after they elected to bat first in the decider at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.Indian bowlers skittled out the Kiwis for a paltry 66 in 12.1 overs for a 2-1 series win. The hosts had whitewashed the Kiwis in three one-day matches.
The huge victory was India’s biggest ever in T20 internationals and the biggest margin by runs in a match played between two Test-playing nations.
Gill, who hit a match-winning Test ton in Bangladesh in December and then his maiden ODI double hundred in January, had scored just 76 runs in his previous five T20s since making his debut last month against Sri Lanka.
“I was backing myself to get the big ones even in one-days and T20s, unfortunately it don’t happen for me in the Sri Lanka series,” said the 23-year-old Gill.
Asked about the demands of playing all three formats, Gill said: “When you are representing your country, I don’t think there is any kind of fatigue. I always wanted to play for India and being fortunate enough to play all the three formats, it is a blessing.”
India elected to bat first on a batting-friendly pitch and Gill continued his magnificent run of form — hitting 12 fours and seven sixes.He had also put the New Zealand bowling to the sword by scoring 360 runs in the preceding ODIs — the joint-most in a bilateral three-match series.
– ‘Normalise pressure games’ –
Gill put on 103 runs for the fourth wicket with skipper Hardik Pandya, who made 30 and then took four wickets with his pace bowling, at the 132,000-seater Narendra Modi Stadium.
“We want to normalise these pressure games, and hopefully we can do better at bigger stages,” said Pandya, who was named man of the series.
Off-spinner Michael Bracewell struck early as he trapped Ishan Kishan lbw for one in the second over of the innings.
Gill hit back with a flurry of boundaries including three in one over off Blair Tickner. Rahul Tripathi, who made 44, joined the charge as the two put on 80 runs.
Tripathi smashed three sixes including one off leg-spinner Ish Sodhi only to hole out next ball in another attempt to clear the ropes.
Gill, who became only the fifth Indian batsman to record centuries across all three formats, found another attacking partner in Suryakumar Yadav who smashed 24 off 13 balls as the two kept up the onslaught.
Tickner cut short Suryakumar’s stay with Bracewell taking a sharp catch at mid-on.
But the unstoppable Gill changed gears and raised his ton off 54 balls with a boundary as he took off his helmet and let off a roar.
New Zealand made a horrendous start to their mammoth chase as they lost their top four for just seven runs inside three overs as Arshdeep Singh struck twice in the second over of the innings.
Suryakumar took two spectacular catches at first slip off Pandya’s pace bowling to send back Finn Allen, for three, and Glenn Phillips, for two.
Tearaway quick Umran Malik bowled Bracewell before Daryl Mitchell, who made 35, and skipper Mitchell Santner attempted to resist.
“It’s tough to win if you lose five (wickets) in the powerplay,” said Santner.
Arshdeep, Umran and Shivam Mavi took two wickets each.
India will now head into the hotly-anticipated four-Test series against Australia starting February 9 in Nagpur.