Team India skipper Rohit Sharma was in awe of Michael Bracewell’s clinical hitting during the 1st ODI against New Zealand and admitted that it became a challenging task to defend 350 with Bracewell striking the ball to all corners of the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad.
It was a whirlwind display and none of the Indian bowlers could find an answer in front of his onslaught. Arriving at No. 7, Bracewell had an uphill task ahead of him with New Zealand still needing 240 runs to win.
In the company of Mitchell Santer, the duo staged a dramatic turnaround to take New Zealand closer to the target.
The 162-run stand gave India a real scare but eventually, Santner was dismissed by Siraj. In the final over, Shardul Thakur managed to hold onto his nerves and deliver the killer punch.
He found Michael Bracewell plumb right in front of the stumps after a scintillating 140 in a mere 78 deliveries. His innings included 12 fours and 10 monstrous sixes as New Zealand fell 12 runs short of India’s total.
Here's what Rohit Sharma said in the post-match presentation:
“To be honest, the way Bracewell was batting, we knew it was going to be a challenge. It was such a clean striking. After we had them five down, we knew we were in the game unless we slip up. And that's what happens.
"But we always knew the threat of bowling under lights and with the dew like I said at the toss, which is the kind of challenge we wanted,” Rohit told broadcasters in the post-match presentation ceremony.
Rohit Sharma lauds Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj
Rohit Sharma also reserved special praise for Shubman Gill who scored a fascinating 208 which came in just 149 deliveries.
Gill paced his innings to perfection and then launched a scathing attack on the New Zealand bowlers in the final few overs. He was eventually dismissed in the final over but not before taking India to a huge total.
The youngster also became the fifth Indian after Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, and Ishan Kishan to score an ODI double-century.
Praising Gill for his stupendous knock, Rohit said:
“Watching Gill bat is fanastic, clean striking and no aerial shots. We wanted to give him a run before the SL series for the kind of form he was in. He's such a free-flowing batsman."
Mohammed Siraj once again played a pivotal part in India’s victory. Just when Bracewell and Santner threatened to win it for New Zealand, Siraj came back to dismiss Santner before castling Henry Shipley with a beauty. Rohit showered praise on the pacer, who returned with figures of 4/46.
“Siraj has been brilliant, of late even in the other two formats. He's gone from strength to strength, running hard and clear about what he wants to do. He's not afraid to use the short ball as well, which is exciting,” said Rohit Sharma.
The two teams will now head off to Raipur for the 2nd ODI on Saturday (January 21) followed by the final ODI at the Holkar Stadium in Indore.
With the 50-over World Cup around the horizon, the team management will be tempted to rest the senior players in bilateral T20 tournaments.
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