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The First ODI between India and New Zealand ended in a thrilling finish on Wednesday, 18th January in Hyderabad, India. The First ODI will always be remembered for Shubhman Gill reaching the coveted landmark of 208 runs in 149 balls and Michael Bracewell’s 140 runs in 77 balls in one of the best chases in recent times. Gill’s innings was studded with some clean hitting with 9 Sixes and 19 Fours. Gill reached this landmark with three consecutive sixes, something which is unheard of in history of cricket! This humongous effort from Shubhman Gill took India to a formidable total of 349 runs. The Kiwis came close in their reply, falling short of just 12 runs in the last over. Indians take a lead of 1 – 0 in the Three Match Series.

The Indians were riding high on confidence after their 3 – 0 Whitewash against Sri Lanka. The Black Caps, who are the Number 1 ODI Team presently, were confident after their 2 – 1 Series Win against Pakistan. Virat Kohli’s return of form and Rohit Sharma hitting the ball well will give a huge boost to the Indians considering this is the ODI World Cup Year. The First ODI saw the big guns – KL Rahul, Axar and Iyer missing the game due to personal commitments or injuries. The dangerous SKY, flamboyant Ishan Kishan, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur were seen back into the team. The pacer Umran Malik was unfortunately left out of the playing 11, which came as a surprise because Umran has been performing consistently at the highest level. The Indians opted to Bat after the Rohit Sharma won the toss.

Indians Started Well with the Bat

The Indians started well with the bat with Captain Rohit Sharma and the Young Prince Shubhman Gill flashing boundaries and ensuring that India does not lose any wickets in the First Powerplay. They put up 52 runs for no loss in the first 10 overs with stylish cover drives from Gill and a huge Six by the Captain Hitman. The promising start by the Indian openers came to an end with Rohit being held out in the mid circle by Mitchell as the ball scooped up after hitting the bottom of the bat. Tickner got his first wicket of the match in the shape of the Indian Captain.

King Kohli Falls to Santner

The fall of Rohit Sharma saw the mighty King Kohli enter the playing field. After smashing Shipley to a beautiful cover drive, India’s Number 1 batter fell to a beauty from Santner. The experience of Santner was key in getting this vital wicket for New Zealand. The Spinners have been troubling Kohli off and on and he was quietly undone by a wrong ‘un by the only Kiwi specialist spinner.

SKY and Gill Stabilize Mid Innings

The fall of the talented Ishan Kishan saw they multi-dimensional SKY enter the ground. He was greeted by a loud cheer and whistles by the crowd. There came some sort of stability to the innings as SKY settled down to a good rhythm with Shubhman Gill and ensured that India did not lose any wickets to the Kiwi part-timers. However, after a good start, the 360 degrees Surya fell to the bowling of Daryl Mitchell.

Back-to-Back Centuries for Shubhman Gill

The standout performer of the day was Shubhman Gill with back-to-back centuries. He scored his 100 in 87 balls and lifted his bat proudly the second time in two innings. Gill’s innings was laced with stylish boundaries, some lofty blows and a few quick singles. He seemed to be playing on a different pitch than the Indian batsmen who were falling to some mediocre bowling by the Kiwis. Shubhman Gill went on to score a beautiful 208 off 149 balls which took him to his career best in ODIs. Gill also broke the record of reaching the Fastest 1000 ODI Runs for an Indian, going past Dhawan and Virat Kohli.

Bracewell Sets the Stage on Fire

Chasing 350 would always have been difficult for the Kiwis. They began poorly with their first 6 batters falling for 130 odd runs. With more than 200 runs to go, the Indians let go of the pressure and sat in hope that the Black Caps would give away their remaining wickets. However, Bracewell and Santner had other plans. They stitched up a partnership with Bracewell dispatching the bad balls to the boundaries and Santner holding up one end. Even when Santner was sent packing by Siraj, Bracewell did not lose his momentum and worked with the tail to get New Zealand as close as possible. There was a time when the Indians were left wondering if the match was snatched from their grasp.

India’s Poor Bowling Performance

Hardik Pandya, Shami and Shardul Thakur had one of the worst days in office and almost lost the match for India. They were dispatched to all corners of the ground mercilessly. The Captain Rohit Sharma seemed fast asleep and did not make the right bowling changes when required. Kuldeep did not finish his complete quota of overs and Pandya was given the ball time and again, despite showing signs of a back strain. There was no specialist bowler left to bowl the last over, and the ball was handed over to Shardul Thakur. He started badly by being dispatched for a six and then giving a wide. It was then that Virat Kohli came to him and told him to bowl the yorker. This trick worked for Shardul and he got Bracewell out LBW. Amongst the Indian Bowlers it was only Mohammed Siraj, who bought India back into the game, taking 2 wickets in a single over. India managed a close escape and should be thankful to Gill, who went into beast mode, hitting 5 sixes in 8 balls at the end of his innings.

The Exclusion of Umran Malik

The Coach Rahul Dravid is of a defensive mindset, and he prefers going with the Old Horse Mohammed Shami and the all-rounder Shardul Thakur rather than investing in the Indian team’s fastest pacer. The future of Indian Bowling is definitely Umran Malik and not the aging Shami. This has surely been a blunder on the part of the Captain Rohit Sharma and the Coach as the World Cup is approaching and Umran Malik needs good match practice before that. This decision again falls under the category of preferential selection which has continually marred Indian cricket over time.

SKY and Ishan Kishan Lost a Perfect Opportunity

The Number One T20 Batsman Surya Kumar Yadav fondly known as SKY got an excellent opportunity to show his prowess in the ODI Format. With Shreyas Iyer sitting out due to a back injury, SKY had a golden chance to show his mettle in all three matches. Even though SKY took his time to settle down today, he did not value his wicket and scored 31 runs in 26 balls with four boundaries to his name.

Ishan Kishan also got a go in the Series with KL Rahul sitting out due to his upcoming wedding. The double centurion took the field after his 200 against Bangladesh. While Rohit Sharma had given him the Number 4 position in the Playing 11, he is better suited in the Top 3. It is an excellent time for Kishan to show his ability to the selectors and the fans with the ODI World Cup 2023 just around the corner.

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