Shubman Gill smashes highest T20I score by an Indian, New Zealand series sealed 2-1
His unbeaten 126 was followed by New Zealand’s capitulation for 66, handing the hosts a 168-run victory, their biggest in T20Is in terms of runs.
It was the 16th over and Shubman Gill was rocketing along at 67 off 45 balls, helping India maintain a healthy strike rate of 10 runs an over. That’s when New Zealand’s debutant left-arm seamer Ben Lister missed his length, twice. First, Gill deposited him in the stands over mid-wicket and then made room to whip him a bit squarer.
If one thought Gill was blazing away, his acceleration was yet to come. It eventually helped India post 234, which they defended with ease, registering a 168-run victory – their highest in terms of runs – in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. It sealed another bilateral T20I series win (2-1) at home.
Gill finished on an unbeaten 126 (63 b, 12x4, 7x6), the highest T20I innings by an Indian batter, going past Virat Kohli’s 122. His last 59 runs came in 18 balls.
The 23-year-old has been marked for batting greatness from a young age. With this knock, we may have seen Gill’s coming of age as a T20 force. His T20I strike rate before the match was 128. Perhaps, five internationals are a small sample size. But even his IPL strike rate, across 74 matches and five seasons, is 125. Here, he batted at a strike rate of 200 and stayed the course.
That may explain the angry cry celebrating his 54-ball hundred, after he sent a Lockie Ferguson cross-seamer over extra cover for four. The very next moment he bowed to the crowd and his dug-out, smiling. Gill was particularly severe against pace as he rode on the true bounce to keep his IPL home crowd (he plays for Gujarat Titans) entertained.
It was Rahul Tripathi who had generated more cheers initially with his cheeky shots. While Tripathi’s 44 (22b) was a lot about pre-meditated shots against pace and using his feet against spin, Gill exuded classy shot-making and was pocketing boundaries at will.
New Zealand fielders dropped Gill thrice. In the sixth over, he was dropped on 33 at short third man, failing to get on top of an attempted cut shot off a rising Ferguson delivery. It proved costly.
The Kiwis will leave India battered by Gill’s regal stroke play. In the first match of the ODI series, he became the youngest Indian to score an ODI double ton. On Wednesday, he became the youngest Indian to score a T2OI hundred.
India all but sealed the game inside their bowling powerplay. Skipper Hardik Pandya delivered two sharp bouncers which resulted in the wickets of Finn Allen (3) and Glen Phillips (2), both caught spectacularly by Suryakumar Yadav at slip.
Pandya’s new-ball partner Arshdeep Singh got the ball to swing early. He ended the quests of Devon Conway and Mark Chapman quickly. New Zealand at one stage were 7/4. Enter Umran Malik, and he castled the dangerous Michael Bracewell (8) to leave the visitors reeling at 21/5. They never really managed to recover or narrow the margin of defeat, folding up for 66 in 12.1 overs. Pandya proved the most productive bowler with figures of 4-0-16-4.