Ahmedabad, Feb 1 (IANS): A sensational maiden T20I century by Shubman Gill (126 not out off 63) followed by a dominating performance by the bowlers led India to a massive 168-run win in the third and final T20I and 2-1 series victory over New Zealand at the Narendra Modi Stadium, here on Wednesday.
Gill, who didn't have much success in the first two games, put on a batting show, smashing the Black Caps' bowlers all-round the world's largest cricket stadium. Apart from Gill, the likes of Rahul Tripathi (44 off 22), Hardik Pandya (30 off 17) and Suryakumar Yadav (24 off 13) also made vital contributions with the bat.
Chasing a mammoth total, New Zealand were off to a disastrous start as Arshdeep Singh and Hardik Pandya ripped through their top order. A couple of superb reflex catches by Suryakumar Yadav at slips also helped India's cause.
The likes of Finn Allen (3) and Devon Conway (1), Mark Chapman (0) and Glenn Phillips had no answers against Arshdeep and Hardik and they got out cheaply to leave visitors in deep deep trouble at 7/4 in 2.4 overs.
Very soon, Umran Malik also joined the fun by cleaning up Michael Bracewell, who got troubled by the extra pace as New Zealand's struggle continued. Daryl Mitchell (35) fought a lone battle for New Zealand but it was not enough as they were bowled out for just 66 runs in 12.1 overs to suffer a massive defeat.
Hardik Pandya was the most-successful bowler for India with his superb figures of 4/16, while Umran Malik (2/9), Shivam Mavi (2/12) and Arshdeep Singh (2/16) also picked two wickets each.
Earlier, India won the toss and opted to bat first but they lost the wicket of Ishan Kishan very early. The left-hander, who is going through a poor form, was trapped leg before by a flattish delivery from Michael Bracewell in the second over of the innings.
After Ishan's wicket, the pressure was on Shubman Gill and Rahul Tripathi to give India some momentum and they did it with perfection by hitting multiple boundaries. While Gill played traditional shots to fetch fours, Tripathi brought adventurous shots to get boundaries and six to take India to 57/1 at the end of the Power-play.
Even after the Power-play, Tripathi was in no mood to drop the intent and he hit Kiwi spinners in back-to-back overs to keep the momentum going. However, his entertaining knock came to an end when he pulled a half-tracker by Mitchell Santner down the fine-leg fielder's throat.
The stage was set for Suryakumar Yadav to come and join the party and he cut a short-of-a-length delivery from Sodhi for a boundary as India reached 102/2 at the halfway stage. On the other hand, Gill brought up another easy-looking half-century off 35 deliveries.
Suryakumar Yadav, who played his trademark six over fine leg against Sodhi, couldn't continue his attacking innings longer courtesy of a superb one-handed diving catch at mid-wicket, leaving India at 125/3 after 12.3 overs. On the other hand, Gill, who was timing the ball to perfection and picked up his scoring rate with boundaries and six to race into the 90s and bring a quick-fire half-century stand with Hardik Pandya.
Whatever New Zealand were throwing his way, Gill was finding a way to send it over the boundary line and he played his trademark cover drive to hit a boundary and bring up his maiden T20I hundred off 54 boundaries. With this, Gill became the youngest Indian (23-year-old) to score a T20I century and also the fifth batter from the country after Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, K.L. Rahul and Virat to score centuries in all three formats.
His sensational innings continued after the century as Gill clubbed Benjamin Lister for six and boundaries to score 17 runs in the 19th over. Hardik Pandya, who was picking boundaries at regular intervals, got out to Daryl Mitchell in the first ball of the 20th over.
Deepak Hooda joined Gill as Mitchell bowled a fine last over, conceding only six runs and picking up a wicket but he couldn't prevent India from registering their fifth-highest T20I score. For New Zealand, Michael Bracewell, Blair Tickner, Ish Sodhi and Daryl Mitchell took a wicket each.
Brief scores: India 234/4 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 126 not out, Rahul Tripathi 44, Hardik Pandya 30; Daryl Mitchell 1-6) beat New Zealand 66 all-out in 12.1 overs (Daryl Mitchell 35; Umran Malik 2-9, Shivam Mavi 2-12, Arshdeep Singh 2-16) by 168 runs.