After blanking New Zealand in the ODI series by 3-0, Team India captain Rohit Sharma praised Shardul Thakur, who took crucial wickets of visitors to ease some pressure from the team, and said teammates call him a ‘magician’ in the squad as he makes telling contributions with ball and bat literally every time he is called to do so. Centuries from openers Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, followed by three-wicket hauls from Shardul Thakur and Kuldeep Yadav, helped India defeat New Zealand by 90 runs in the third and final ODI of the series at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on Tuesday.
Shardul bagged the wickets of Daryl Mitchell, New Zealand captain Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips while conceding 45 runs in 6 overs.
“We bowled pretty well, stuck to our plans and held our nerve. Shardul has been doing it for a while. Teammates call him a magician and he came and delivered yet again. He just needs to get more games under his belt,” Rohit said at the post-match presentation.
India won the first ODI, a high-scoring thriller at Hyderabad by 12 runs, while their seamers helped them to an eight-wicket win at Raipur in the second game.
“I thought in the last six games we played, we did most parts right and that is the key in 50-over games. We were consistent too. Without Siraj and Shami I knew we wanted to give chances to people on the bench. We wanted to get Chahal and Umran in the mix. We wanted to see how they react under pressure. I know we had the runs on the board, but I don’t think any score is safe here,” the India captain added.
Praising Kuldeep Yadav, Rohit said, “Every time I have given Kuldeep the ball, he has given us crucial breakthroughs. Wrist spinners tend to get better with game time.”
Shubman continued his purple patch as he struck the second century of his career and the second of the series, at the top of the innings. He smashed 112 runs in just 78 balls. His knock was studded with 13 fours and five sixes. He scored at a strike rate of 143.58 and the inning on Tuesday took his aggregate for the series to 360 runs.
He was adjudged the ‘Player of the Series’ for his sensational exploits with the willow, which included a maiden double hundred in the first match.
“Gill’s approach is quite similar in every game. He doesn’t carry any emotional baggage from his previous innings and wants to start afresh every game. For a youngster still finding his feet in international cricket, it is a great attitude to have. He could have taken things lightly but he is cut from a different cloth,” Rohit added.
Indian skipper, too, smashed his first ODI century since January 2020, in the process becoming the third-highest six-hitter in the history of ODI cricket. Rohit said whille century meant a lot to him, he knew he had been batting well and it was only about “going that extra mile”.
“Today’s hundred means a lot to me. I’ve been batting well, so it was just about going that extra mile. The pitch was good today. Honestly, we don’t talk much about the rankings. Our dressing room discussions are mainly around doing the right things on the field. Australia are a quality team and things won’t be easy for us but I am pretty sure we will be up for it (Border-Gavaskar Trophy),” said the India skipper.