India 385 for 9 (Gill 112, Rohit 101, Duffy 3-100) Vs. New Zealand
What probably helped New Zealand’s comeback was that India’s incoming batsmen tried to bat in a manner that did justice to the opening, thereby taking the risk that a slower pitch might be able to deliver. was not The first 26 flew easily for Rohit and Gill. When he batted, the pitch looked very smooth, the ground very small and the outfield very sharp.
Pushes went for fours, mishits for sixes, and he flicked outside off and reached the ball pitch without hitting a six. Most of the shots, though, were just sweetly timed.
The hard work of the New Zealand bowlers was evident when Rohit edged Jacob Duffy near mid-wicket in the third over, but the ball kept getting away from the chasing fielder. In Duffy’s next over, the pitch presented itself in all its glory. Gayle flicked a short ball over long leg for a big six with no difficulty, and Rohit flicked the short-off length ball down the ground for a six that was much longer.
Lockie Ferguson, who had bowled a maiden and conceded just six runs in his first three overs, was then dismissed for 22 in the fourth over. And apart from one full toss, he did not bowl a single bad ball. Gill just relied on the pitch and used the quick outfield.
Now it was almost a contest. Rohit responded with 17 runs in the tenth over. As Gayle hit boundaries with a leg glance and an extra cover drive to bring up his fifty, Rohit countered with two sixes off Mitchell Santner.
After the first drinks break, at 147 for 0 in 17 overs, New Zealand tied the batsmen relatively speaking. Santner and Ferguson combined to bowl three straight overs without boundaries from one end. At the other end, Daryl Mitchell was excited when Rohit hit one high in the air, but was disappointed when long-on was cleared.
Mitchell was likely bowling because he didn’t want to feed off-spinner Michael Bracewell to two right-handed batsmen. When Bracewell finally came on, Gayle greeted him with a four and a thunderous six over extra cover to join Rohit in the 90s.
After both scored their centuries – Rohit’s 83-ball, his first in three years, and Gayle’s 72, his third in four innings – they looked to bring back the scoring rate. Rohit tries to get Bracewell into the stands but misses the full straight delivery. Gill stepped forward after bowling and dismissed Blair Tickner on a slow bouncer before hitting a six.
Virat Kohli looked dangerous as it was but against Ishan Kishan the bowlers found some control. Kishan was 5 off 15 balls at one point, and came close to a run off one ball before calling Kohli for a dangerous single and then sacrificing his wicket. Kohli tried to drive Duffy high at extra cover but hit him straight to mid-off and was dismissed for 36 off 27 balls.
At 248 for 4 in the 37th over, Surya Kumar Yadav went ahead and hit two sixes for 14 off 9. Now Hardik Pandya and Washington Sundar have to slow down to ensure that India have enough wickets for the death overs.
Another slow delivery from Tickner reduced Washington to 313 for 6 in the 43rd over. Two more overs passed without a boundary in which Pandya scored 18 runs off 24 balls. However, from 46 to 49 overs, India scored 57 runs. Shardul Thakur scored 25 off 17, as Pandya completed his half-century off 36 balls. Duffy brought up his century, but he dismissed Pandya on a slower ball in the 49th over, saving New Zealand 15 more runs.
Siddharth Monga is Assistant Editor at ESPNcricinfo.