INDORE, India: Blazing centuries from skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill powered India to a 3-0 series sweep of New Zealand and go top of the one-day international rankings on Tuesday. The hosts hammered the Kiwis by 90 runs in the third match in Indore after Rohit (101) and Gill (112) put on 212 for the opening wicket to guide the hosts to 385-9 in Indore. In reply, Devon Conway’s 138 was in vain as India bowled out New Zealand for 295 in 41.2 overs for their second successive whitewash.
The victory takes India to the top of the ODI rankings ahead of World Cup holders England and New Zealand who slip from second to fourth behind Australia. Qualification for the World Cup in India later in the year is unaffected, however, as the Kiwis have already qualified. But Rohit, who recorded his first ODI century since January 2020, and Gill stood out in the highest opening partnership by any team against the Kiwis in the 50-over format, surpassing the 201-run stand of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir in 2009.
“In the last six games we’ve done most things right in ODIs,” said Rohit, whose side whitewashed Sri Lanka in three matches before this. “We’re consistent in our approach with the bat and ball.” Fast bowler Shardul Thakur was named man of the match for his three wickets and crucial 25 runs batting down the order. “Shardul has been doing it for a while,” said Rohit. People call him magician in the squad and he came and delivered.”
New Zealand’s bowlers hit back after the pair’s departure as India slipped to 293-5 before Hardik Pandya took charge, boosting the total with a 38-ball 54. It all started with Gill smashing Lockie Ferguson for four fours and a six in a 22-run eighth over and Rohit joined the party with a few big hits over the fence. Gill recorded his third 100-plus score in his last four ODI innings, taking off his helmet and basking in applause from the stands when he reached the milestone.
Michael Bracewell bowled Rohit and Blair Tickner sent back Gill in the next over and India soon lost regular wickets, despite a brisk 36 from Virat Kohli. The left-handed Ishan Kishan was run out after a mix-up with Kohli, who soon fell to Jacob Duffy. Pandya put on 54 for the seventh wicket with Thakur.
Eye on World Cup
In reply, New Zealand lost Finn Allen on the second delivery of their chase after Pandya bowled the opener for nought. Conway stood firm to add 106 for the second wicket with Henry Nicholls, who hit 42, and 78 for the third with Daryl Mitchell (24). The left-handed Conway fought hard as wickets fell at the other end as he raised his third ODI hundred with a six off leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal.
Thakur dented New Zealand’s chase when he struck twice with successive deliveries, Mitchell caught behind and then skipper Tom Latham caught at mid-off. Conway, who smashed 12 fours and eight sixes in his 100-ball blitz, looked unstoppable until tearaway quick Umran Malik got the batsman caught at mid-wicket. Bracewell, who hit 26, and Mitchell Santner, who made 34, attempted to keep up the fight but Bracewell’s wicket off Kuldeep Yadav, who picked three wickets, spelt the end for the Black Caps.
Latham, a wicketkeeper-batsman, said the experience would help them in the World Cup. “It’s our last experience in India before the World Cup so the guys are exposed to these conditions in the three games and hopefully it’ll be helpful in October,” said Latham. The two teams will now play three Twenty20 internationals starting Friday in Ranchi. – AFP