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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 21 May 2024

India vs England: Shubman Gill shows grit and patience required to weather James Anderson storm

Shreyas Iyer finds himself in a dicey situation in terms of his selection for the remainder of the series after wasting yet another opportunity

Sayak Banerjee Visakhapatnam Published 05.02.24, 05:48 AM
Shubman Gill during his innings of 104 in Visakhapatnam on Sunday. Gill, who was going through a rough patch, hit 11 fours and two sixes during his standout effort.

Shubman Gill during his innings of 104 in Visakhapatnam on Sunday. Gill, who was going through a rough patch, hit 11 fours and two sixes during his standout effort. Getty Images

Tough and tricky periods serve as a test of character and resilience. Shubman Gill has cleared that test, and in flying colours.

Unlike Shreyas Iyer, who finds himself in a dicey situation in terms of his selection for the remainder of the series after wasting yet another opportunity, Gill, for the time being, seems to have done enough to keep his doubters and critics quiet. He showed the grit and patience required to weather an early James Anderson storm on Sunday morning, gradually got into his groove and reached three figures for the third time in the longest format. That enabled India to set England a stiff 399-run target in the second Test at the ACA-VDCA Stadium.

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His celebration after bringing up his century — the first batting at No.3 and after a no-show in 13 innings on the trot which questioned his place in the squad — was quite simple and mellow compared to that of Yashasvi Jaiswal, the first innings double centurion.

When a single off leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed took him to the landmark, Gill, with his father Lakhwinder Singh clapping from the BCCI box on the stadium premises, just raised his bat, taking off the helmet with an expression of relief writ large on his face.

"It felt good to get that hundred. But I just thought the job was not yet done for the team. So that's why it was a little mellowed-down celebration," Gill said later at the news conference.

"As for the pressure and dealing with outside noise, the support I've got from (captain) Rohit (Sharma)bhai, (head coach) Rahul (Dravid)Sir and (batting coach) Vikram (Rathour)Sir as well meant a lot. They are the ones who have always kept me motivated. They have kept believing in me. And when that is the case, you're going to be at the top of your game," Gill emphasised.

Time is running out for Shreyas Iyer.

Time is running out for Shreyas Iyer. Getty Images

"Staying true" to his style of playing helped Gill wade through the tough period in his Test career. "Sometimes, if you get over-defensive or over-aggressive or try to be someone you are not, then you are prolonging those innings.

"You're not able to get out of that shell then. That was what I kept telling myself, that I'm going to play how I've played my cricket throughout," he said.

Precisely, this 104-run knock was as important as Jaiswal’s 209 in the first innings because India, barring the two crucial partnerships of 81 and 89 Gill stitched with Iyer and Axar Patel, respectively, kept losing wickets at regular intervals before folding for 255 in their second innings. That, even after India were cruising at 211/4 when Gill and Axar had absolutely no problem in dealing with Rehan, left-armer Tom Hartley and rookie off-spinner Shoaib Bashir.

Close shaves

A stroke of fortune early in his innings certainly helped Gill. After Anderson castled captain Rohit Sharma and induced an edge off Jaiswal, India could easily have been 31/3 had the DRS not spotted a faint inner edge off his bat when Gill was adjudged lbw by the on-field umpire off Tom Hartley. He was on 4 then.

Soon after, the umpire’s call came to Gill’s rescue when Anderson shaped one in to hit his front knee. Minutes later, Zak Crawley was late to react at slip when Gill edged one with Hartley again being the unlucky bowler.

Stroke of luck aside, Gill needs to be lauded for quickly putting those close shaves out of his mind, looking determined to remain steady against the Anderson test and latching onto anything ill-directed from the English spin trio with his footwork close to being spot-on.

"I was just taking one ball at a time and obviously, there was a lot happening in and around the crease then," Gill said, recalling those anxious moments.

Statement at No.3

Coming in at No.3 since the West Indies tour last July, Gill just wasn’t able to get a 50-plus score even if he had a decent start. He even had to hear being given "extra cushion" at No.3. But before he was cornered, Gill brought his A-game into play, something that bodes well for Team India for the remainder of the series.

“I think it was very important and very satisfying for me to be able to score runs at No.3. And it felt pretty good, especially in that situation when we lost Yashasvi and Rohitbhai early,” Gill said.

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