Shubman Gill smashed a whirlwind unbeaten maiden century in the shortest format as India thrashed New Zealand by 168 runs, their biggest ever win in terms of runs, in the third and final T20 International to pocket the hard-fought series 2-1 here on Wednesday.
India’s second highest margin of victory was 143-run win over Ireland in Dublin in 2018.
It was also the highest margin of victory between two full member teams.
Gill continued his fine form and showcased his array of shots, hitting the New Zealand bowlers to all parts of the Narendra Modi Stadium to score 126 not out off just 63 balls balls with the help of 12 fours and seven sixes. Riding on Gill’s brilliance, India posted 234 for 4 after electing to bat. New Zealand never got going in the huge chase as Indian bowlers performed in unison to bowl out the visitors for a mere 66 in 12.1 overs, the third lowest score for the Kiwis in this format. Skipper Hardik Pandya led the bowling department with figures of 4/16, while Umran Malik (2/9), Shivam Mavi (2/12) and Arshdeep Singh (2/16) scalped two wickets each. New Zealand lost Finn Allen in the fifth ball of the opening over bowled by Pandya, caught by Suryakumar Yadav.
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Left-arm pacer Arshdeep struck with his first delivery, as Devon Conway lobbed a fuller delivery to Pandya at mid-off.
New Zealand continued to lose wickets as Mark Champman got a faint inside edge which went straight to Ishan Kishan off Arshdeep’s last delivery of the over.
Wickets kept on tumbling like of pack of cards for New Zealand with Glenn Phillips becoming the next victim, caught by Suryakumar at slips off Pandya.
Down at 13 for 4 after three overs, it was all but over for New Zealand.
The situation became even worst for New Zealand when Michael Bracewell was cleaned up up by a fast delivery from Umran Malik.
New Zealand skipper Mitchell Santner (13) and Daryl Mitchell (35) then added 32 runs for the sixth wicket before Shivam Mavi dismissed the former, caught by Suryakumar at deep midwicket fence as the left-hander tried to heave a short ball.
Mavi struck again a ball later, removing Ish Sodhi (0) caught by Tripathi at backward point as New Zealand slumped to 53 for seven in nine overs.
Thereafter, it was just a formality for India and the hosts romped home in style. Earlier, the start was far from rosy for India after electing to bat as Mitchell Santner made a master-stroke decision by handing Michael Bracewell the second over and the off-spinner reposed his captain’s faith by removing an out-of-form Ishan Kishan, who was adjudged LBW with the second ball of the over.
In-form Gill struck two boundaries off Lockie Ferguson in the next over.
Gill was at his ominous best, be it pick up hits, drives or pulls to continue his onslaught.
He hit Blair Tickner for three fours in the fifth over as India reached 44 for 1.
Young Rahul Tripathi (44 off 22), who has immense potential but yet to fire in the series, then struck Ferguson for a boundary and a six in consecutive balls to keep up the tempo.
Tripathi then pulled Santner over short-fine leg before coming down and lofting the left-arm spinner for a straight six.
Tripathi showed his attacking class and dispatched Ish Sodhi over extra cover for his third six of the innings but perished in the next ball in search of one too many, holing out at deep square leg to Ferguson.
Gill reached his maiden T20I fifty off 35 balls with a single off Santner.
While Gill held one end, Suryakumar Yadav (24 off 13) showed glimpses of his class but fell in the 13th over, brilliantly caught by Bracewell at mid-off as the batter mistimed his shot.
Gill brought up his century with a four over the mid-off fielder off the bowling of Ferguson in the first ball of the 18th over.
He broke free and clobbered Ferguson over mid-wicket for a huge six in the next ball.
It was mayhem as skipper Pandya (30 off 17) too went ballistic.
But it was Gill who stole the show as he continued with his attacking shots after the ton, finding the boundaries at will as New Zealand attack looked listless.