Shubman Gill gives India special authority to 349

Shubman Gill scored a career-best 208 to help India post a mammoth total of 349/8 against New Zealand in the series opener on Wednesday in Hyderabad, becoming him the youngest cricketer to record an ODI double (January 18). Every significant fifty-plus partnership that India had was broken by New Zealand, who also found ways to make mistakes, but the irrepressible Gill broke numerous records in his solo attempt to help India get a score over average.

The highlight of Gill's enormous contribution, which he nearly carried through, was the perfectly timed acceleration just as he was about to run out of partners. Gill had started out cautiously but had turned it into a significant contribution. Gill's commanding pulls and exquisite drives gave batting on a track where the ball was a little bit halting and the next best score was only 34 the appearance of being simple.

The only other changes to India's starting XI from the previous game were the return of vice captain Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur. The captain of India chose to bat first. Gill and Rohit Sharma got off to a strong start by taking advantage of Henry Shipley's difficulties with his lengths. The pacer was pricey in the beginning, but Rohit quickly warmed up to him and blasted two sixes and a few boundaries off of him in the first five overs.

After India got off to a good start, New Zealand managed to dramatically slow things down by sending back Rohit, Virat Kohli, and then Kishan with consistent strikes. But once the opener hit a six to reach his run-a-ball fifty, it became a Gill show.

After leading India to a steady start with a 38-ball 34, Rohit lost it when he was a little early on his lofted shot and skied it straight to mid-on. Mitchell Santner hit a length ball that Kohli was forced to defend in a hurry. The ball twisted just enough to miss his outside edge and slam into the off-stump. Four more overs later, with India down to 110/3, in-form Kishan stole a ball from Lockie Ferguson.

Unfazed, Suryakumar Yadav began his innings with a boundary in the same over and went on to gather four more in his first 10 middle-order encounters before turning to some quick racing between the wickets. In just 38 balls, the pair raised a half-century stand, demonstrating their exceptional skill. At the other end, Gill cranked up the tempo and kept the occasional goal from seeping in. The quick 65-run partnership was broken by Daryl Mitchell after Suryakumar survived a stumping scare from Santner when he was on 31 off 24. In the subsequent over, Suryakumar chipped one tamely to him at cover.

Gill was unaffected by a crucial wicket that fell against the flow of play. He pulled Santner over midwicket to move up to 99 before hitting his second consecutive century in just 87 deliveries with the very next ball. After Shikhar Dhawan (17 innings), Gill became the second-fastest Indian to reach the century mark with his third ODI hundred. When he reached 109, he also broke Dhawan and Kohli's previous record for the quickest Indian to 1000 ODI runs (24 innings).

On run 122, Shipley missed a return catch from the opener, giving Gill a reprieve. To further inflict harm on New Zealand, Gill then hit a strong off-drive off an overpitch ball. When he reached 131, he recorded a new career high, but a bizarre call by the third umpire ended his 74-run partnership with Pandya.

Half unsure, India's vice captain missed his cut shot off Mitchell due to space constraints, therefore New Zealand argued for a bowled against him. The umpires sent the ruling upstairs as the bails lit up. However, the TV umpire controversially decided in favor of New Zealand, much to the chagrin of the home crowd, despite there being no edge and no obvious indication that the ball had disturbed the stumps. Pandya returned after making 28 out of 38 shots.

Gill brought up the 150 with a six, just like his fifty, and smoked it well over a wide, long-on barrier. However, New Zealand was able to temporarily slow India's run rate after that. Shipley picked up his first ODI wicket by trapping Washington Sundar LBW on 12, a call that the Indian burned a review on. Additionally, Shardul Thakur gave up his wicket for on-song Gill after a bad mix-up in the middle.

The opener returned that small act of faith by picking up the pace to reach his first ODI double-century. In the 48th over, Gill broke the chains with two sixes off Tickner, the first flying deep into the midwicket stands and the second flat-batted right onto the sightscreen. With the final of his three consecutive sixes in the last over from Ferguson, he moved from 150 to 200 in just 23 balls. After playing a blinder of a knock to assist India gain the upper hand, Gill eventually holed out to the deep.

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