India opening batsman Shubman Gill joined a select club of ODI double centurions as he decimated New Zealand's bowling attack in the first match of the series in Hyderabad, to set up what was ultimately a hard-fought 12-run win for his team.
Gill batted almost the entire innings on Wednesday and smashed 208 from 149 balls to become the fifth Indian and eighth overall to score a double century in 50-over cricket.
His imperious knock helped India score 349-8 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. Gill hit 19 fours and an incredible nine sixes during his innings, with the next best effort by an Indian batsman being just 34 by captain Rohit Sharma.
India seemed to be coasting towards a comprehensive win when they reduced New Zealand to 131-6 with a little more than 20 overs to go. But all-rounder Michael Bracewell launched a breathtaking counter attack as he smashed 140 from just 78 balls to take his team close to victory before he became the last man out in the final over.
Bracewell and fellow spinner Mitchell Santner (57) put together 162 runs for the seventh wicket to almost pull off a stunning win. Fast bowler Mohammad Siraj (4-46) and wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav (2-43) were the pick of the bowlers as the rest of the attack, especially the pace bowlers, lost the plot under pressure.
New Zealand needed 20 from the last over, bowled by Shardul Thakur. Bracewell hit the first ball for six before he was trapped lbw off a yorker from the third ball to end a valiant effort. New Zealand were bowled out for 337.
However, the day belonged to Gill.
The 23-year-old opening batsman was gifted a life twice in one ball when on 45 and he made the Kiwis pay for their mistake. Off-spinner Bracewell deceived him in the flight to induce an edge. Not only did wicketkeeper and captain Tom Latham miss the edge, he also fumbled the clear stumping chance.
From there, Gill pressed his foot on the gas. He timed his acceleration perfectly by smashing five sixes in the last three overs to reach his double ton and set a target of 350.
The other batsmen, however, did not contribute much. In-form star batsman Virat Kohli fell cheaply to Santner's left-arm spin after scoring eight runs, getting clean bowled while defending.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan scored only five runs before he fell to Lockie Ferguson's pace in a mini middle-order collapse for the hosts.
Santner, who took 1-56 runs in his 10 overs, and Daryl Mitchell, with 2-30 runs in his five overs, were the standout bowlers for New Zealand.
If India win the series 3-0, they will become the top-ranked team in ODI cricket, which will set them on the right track towards the 50-over World Cup at home later in the year.