Vadodara: With his 117-ball 126 against New Zealand Saturday, Gautam Gambhir became the second Indian captain, after Sourav Ganguly, to score consecutive hundreds in one-day Internationals (ODIs).
After the Indian bowlers had troubled the visitors all through the morning, Gambhir, along with Virat Kohli, butchered the New Zealand attack to seal a comfortable victory and pocket the series as well.
Chasing a 225-run target, Gambhir, who was not in the best of form during the Test series, was aggressive from the word go, punishing anything that was loose.
The left-handed opener, who hit a match-winning unbeaten 138 in the second ODI in Jaipur, has an average of 302.00 after three matches in the series. He hit 16 boundaries on Saturday and was instrumental in a 115-run opening wicket partnership with Murali Vijay, who had a quiet day with a 50-ball 30.
Virat Kohli, who came in at No. 3 after Vijays run out, too, continued his good work
Speaking to the media after their nine-wicket victory, the stand-in skipper said that he didnt let the pressure of captaincy affect his batting and lauded his bowlers for restricting the Black Caps to a modest score.
Gambhirs counterpart Daniel Vettori, on the other hand, said that winning the toss gave India an advantage to exploit the bowler-friendly conditions.
According to the left-arm spinner, while the Black Caps batsmen had to deal with early movement off the pitch, the wicket dried out later in the day to make batting easy for the Indians.
Gambhir: It was an important game because we did not wish to give New Zealand any scope for a comeback in this series. Zaheer (Khan) got Brendon McCullum in the first over, and that set up the game for us. We decided before the game that this is a three-game series after the first two matches, and well try to put the best step forward.
As a player or a captain, I have always given my hundred per cent. Captaincy has not changed my batting. I am striking the ball well and would have batted like this under any captain. Any hundred would be important because I have seen a lot of low scores in the recent past. When there is dew in Baroda, it does a bit in the morning; its red soil. It was a good toss to win but it was a great effort from our bowlers to restrict them to 225-odd runs. Zaheer Khan is the best left-arm fast bowler in the world now. He bowled excellent and made optimum use of the conditions.
(Ravichandran) Ashwin has a lot of variety and can bowl well during Powerplays and the slog overs. If he keeps doing that he will be a big asset to the team. Munaf (Patel) bowled very well at first change. Its tough to get figures of one for 28 in 10 overs on a subcontinent wicket. Yusuf (Pathan) contributed with the ball, as well.
Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) is an experienced player and an integral part of the side. He has been a great help to me as captain. With everybody doing their job quite well, it is good to have competitions for places. If the selectors have a headache in this aspect, its a very good sign for Indian cricket.
Vettori: It was a good toss to win (for India). The ball seamed and spun and the track was a bit damp. But as the wicket dried out, 224 was never going to be enough. It was really tough early on. The track got better, and India played exceptionally well, with Gambhir leading the way.
We were pushing hard and were trying to be as simple as possibleů The pressure is not off our backs, we have to keep fighting and its about time we showed we have some good players in the team. We need to do well and everyone needs to perform his role properly.
Our top order needs to stand up, and, hopefully, thatll happen in the next couple of games. (James) Franklin and Nathan (McCullum) played exceptionally well and gave us a chance. But, in the end, the wicket had dried up and played a lot better. The wicket was difficult and we could not attack. The couple of times I thought we put pressure on them was when we played our best, particularly Franklin.
We are not winningů We are bowling as well as we can, but we have not had enough scores on the board that are competitive in one-day cricket. We are disappointed with the way we have been playing. We need one of us to score big or get a lot of wickets...