Vadodara: Back to form after a lean patch, stand-in skipper Gautam Gambhir today described his match-winning unbeaten 126 as a special ton as it has helped India clinch the five-match ODI series against New Zealand here.
“All hundreds are important. This was probably special because it helped us win the series. Moreover, it is always important to be back amongst runs, especially after having a series of low scores against your name,” said Gambhir, who is leading the side in place of rested regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Gambhir, who hit his second successive century to steer India to a nine-wicket win over New Zealand in the third One-dayer here, said it was important not to give the Black Caps any chance to bounce back in the series.
“It was important for us not to give any opportunity to New Zealand to come back into the ODI series and wrap it up here itself,” said Gambhir after India take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Gambhir scored an unbeaten 126 off 117 balls to help India chase down easily the target of 225 set by New Zealand with 10.3 overs to spare in the one-sided encounter. He had also starred in India’s eight-wicket victory in the second ODI in Jaipur, hitting an unbeaten 138 off 116 balls.
Praising the bowlers for their efforts to restrict the Kiwis to a total of 224, Gambhir particularly singled out Zaheer Khan (2/31) and Munaf Patel (1/28).
“Zaheer is a quality bowler. His presence always boosts the side. He set the game for us straightaway today after coming back from an injury, as he sent back Brendon McCullum (0) and Ross Taylor (4) early. Then spinners also did a good job,” said Gambhir.
“Munaf has been very economical in all the matches so far. He has been doing well in the Ranji also and he is carrying on that confidence into these matches also, which is a great sign.”
Two more inconsequential matches to go with the fourth game to be played in Bangalore, followed by fifth tie in Chennai, Gambhir is not ready to lower his guard.
“We always took it as a three match ODI series and are happy to win it 3-0 but now we would like to target it 4-0 and then 5-0 because it is important to have as many wins as possible in your pocket before the tour of South Africa,” said Gambhir.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said his side would now have to fire up to register face saving victories in the remaining two games.
“We still got to fire. It is very important to bounce back. I think the top-order must stand up and contribute because in the sub-continent it is important for the batsmen to score if you want to win matches here. Hopefully, in the next two games we will be able to do that,” said Vettori.
Vettori hailed the Indian team and said that somebody like Gambhir in the top order always makes it easy for any side.
“It was really tough after we could put on only 224 runs on board today. Had we managed a score of 240-250 we could have thought to have posed some challenge but India played exceptionally well and Gambhir in the top-order simply ran away with the match,” added Vettori.