India climbed to the top of the ICC ODI rankings with a comprehensive win over New Zealand at the Holkar Cricket Stadium yesterday. The Men in Blue were in imperious form throughout the series, extending their unbeaten run in ODIs to eight matches in a row. The 3-0 clean sweep of New Zealand on home soil also boosts confidence in India’s dressing room for the upcoming ODI World Cup 2023, with Rohit Sharma’s men now becoming the overwhelming favourites to win the prestigious trophy.
As Team India embark on a four-match Test series against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy next month, let’s take a look at the top performers in the ODI series between India and New Zealand:
#5: Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma scored his 30th international century yesterday, equalling Ricky Ponting’s record in the format. The Hitman is now only behind two other Indian legends in the list, with Sachin Tendulkar (49) and Virat Kohli (46) scoring more centuries in One-Day Internationals than the Indian captain. Rohit Sharma scored 186 runs in the series, finishing the tournament with an average of 62.0.
Rohit Sharma failed to spark in the first ODI of the series but has returned to form with a half-century in the second ODI in Raipur. But it was in the third ODI that the 35-year-old looked like his old self, combining with Shubman Gill to put together a 212-run opening partnership that put India ahead in the match. This is Rohit Sharma’s first ODI century since 2020, with the veteran batsman failing to reach the three-digit mark in the last 12 ODIs.
Along with Virat Kohli’s return to form, Rohit Sharma’s presence at the top of the order portends good times ahead for India in the 50-over format. With both the seniors now out of the T20 national side, a solid performance in the run-up to the ODI World Cup in September would be a fitting end to their limited-overs career.
#4: Shardul Thakur
Shardul Thakur was awarded the Man of the Match award in the third ODI for his exploits, with the all-rounders scoring a brisk 25 runs and taking three wickets in Indore. In the series, Shardul Thakur took six wickets at an average of 20.83, claiming more wickets than both of India’s main pacers.
With India looking to find the optimal mix for the ODI World Cup later this year, Shardul Thakur has put his hat in for a place in the team. Both of India’s main seamers – Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami – are poor with the bat. The case for picking a seamer who is good with the bat along with Hardik Pandya is strong, and Shardul Thakur is a strong contender for the No. 8 spot.
But Shardul Thakur’s inconsistency even within games, as evidenced by Rohit Sharma’s outburst on the field in the middle of yesterday’s game, makes him vulnerable to competition. Deepak Chahar might return to the team once he recovers from his injury, and Shardul Thakur has to continue making the most of the opportunities he is presented by the team.
#3: Michael Bracewell
Michael Bracewell and Devon Conway were the lone rangers for the visitors, with the Kiwis unable to successfully navigate the challenge posed by India throughout the series. Michael Bracewell nearly won the visitors the first ODI in Hyderabad with a stunning century – scoring 140 runs in just 78 balls.
The Kiwi all-rounder’s blitzkrieg included ten 6s and twelve 4s, as he equalled Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s record of being the only batter to score more than one hundred from No.7 or lower in ODIs. He also claimed the record of the second-fastest century against India in the format, scoring his hundred in just 57 balls.
But the 31-year-old could not find his spark in the next two ODIs, getting out for 22 and 26 runs as New Zealand’s batsmen crumbled around him.
#2: Kuldeep Yadav
After losing his spot in the national team for a while, Kuldeep Yadav has returned to phenomenal form since his comeback last year. Earlier limited to just limited-overs cricket, Kuldeep Yadav shone for India in their Test series against Bangladesh, picking up eight wickets in the first Test. Since then, Kuldeep Yadav has picked up 11 wickets in the last five ODIs he was a part of.
Kuldeep Yadav picked up two wickets in the first ODI, taking out both Henry Nicholls and Daryl Mitchell in quick succession to put India in command of the game. He claimed the wicket of Blair Tickner in the second ODI as India’s seamers tore through most of the Kiwi batsmen, but shined in the third ODI once again to pick up the scalps of Henry Nicholls, Michael Bracewell and Lockie Ferguson.
With his strong performance in both ODIs and Tests, Kuldeep Yadav is making a strong comeback as a regular spinner for the Men in Blue.
#1: Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill’s imperious form in all formats of the game continues in the series, with the 23-year-old bagging the Man of the Series award for his performance in the tournament. India’s opening batsman dazzled the world with a spectacular 208-run inning in the first ODI in Hyderabad, becoming the latest Indian star to cross the double-century mark. He continued it with an unbeaten 40-run inning in the second ODI.
Along with Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill stitched together a 212-run partnership yesterday, with the 23-year-old scoring 112 runs in just 78 balls. By scoring 360 runs, Shubman Gill equalled Babar Azam’s record for most runs in a three-match ODI bilateral series. With an average of 73.76 in 21 ODIs, Shubman Gill is all set to climb up the ICC player rankings this year.
VISIT OUR BLG TO GET YOUR FIX FOR ALL OF THE MOST CURRENT CRICKET NEWS STORIES & FEATURES