As New Zealand struggled 131-6 after losing their captain Tom Latham, few would have predicted that Rohit Sharma would feel anxious in the last few overs. In fact, many fans at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium had already begun to make their way home, assuming that India, who had been aided by Shubman Gill’s double hundred to put 349 on the board in the first of a three-match ODI series on Wednesday January 18 had the match in the bag.
However, 31-year-old Michael Bracewell, who only played in his 17th ODI, thrilled the fans left behind and gave Rohit Sharma plenty of moments to worry about. Bracewell put on a spectacular showing, hitting 140 runs in just 78 balls, including 10 sixes and 12 boundaries, as he gave India a run for their money in the first ODI. His performance was a reminder of the power of experience as he single-handedly threatened to turn the tide of the match.
Needing 20 runs for the last over, Bracewell, batting No. 11 Blair Tickner, hit a six off Shardul Thakur, who then bowled a wide. The pressure on the bowler increased, but the left-handed batsman was unable to keep his composure and take New Zealand across the finish line. Despite the tension, Bracewell and Tickner fought bravely to the end, but ultimately failed to reach their goal.
Bracewell was undone by Shardul’s slower ball yorker and took off for 140 on the second ball of the final as New Zealand narrowly lost the first ODI by just 12 runs.
Shardul Thakur’s decisive wicket in the final was the icing on the cake for India, but it was Mohammed Siraj who really shined with the ball. With his family watching from the stands at his home ground, Siraj turned in a sensational performance to take his second successive four-wicket haul in ODIs. He bowled two maiden overs and finished with impressive figures of 4/46.
Siraj was especially impressive with the new ball and knocked out Devon Conway early on. He then returned in the final overs to break the 162-run tie between Santner and Taylor, giving India a much-needed boost and getting them back into the game.
Earlier in the day, India rode Gill’s stunning first ODI double century to put an impressive 349 on the board. Gill’s knock was nothing short of remarkable as he broke nine sixes and 19 boundaries, likely sealing his spot in India’s World Cup squad.
Aged just 23, Shubman Gill demonstrated his remarkable batting ability in a remarkable innings of 208 runs off 149 balls to become the youngest batsman in the world to score a double century in ODI cricket. His effortless display of skill against both spin and pace bowling was a sight to behold, especially on a pitch where most of the other batsmen struggled to find their footing.
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