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Mature Shubman Gill opens up Cup options

In prime form at present, the batter is expected to be in a very good frame of mind as well
Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill
File Photo

Sayak Banerjee   |   Calcutta   |   Published 24.08.22, 03:13 AM

Three half-centuries, along with a maiden international hundred on Monday, highlighted Shubman Gill’s comeback to the ODI fold after almost two years. The 22-year-old could have had two centuries though with a little more luck. He was unbeaten on 98 before rain cut short India’s innings in the third and final ODI versus the West Indies in Port of Spain last month.

Still, Gill’s numbers are impressive enough. Aggregating 450 runs from India’s last six ODIs, he averages 112.50 while his strike rate, which his critics claim to be an area of concern, reads a fine 111.66. For sure, in terms of numbers and his overall performance, particularly in the just-concluded three-ODI series against Zimbabwe in Harare, Gill has simply outperformed all others with the bat.

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What also stood out was his composure and ability to score briskly without playing any extravagant shots.  In prime form at present, Gill is expected to be in a very good frame of mind as well. Obviously, there’s still a good amount of time left for next year’s 50-over World Cup, while India too would be playing quite a few ODIs leading up to the showpiece event. But it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he has strengthened his position as the team’s back-up opener for the World Cup.

“Of course, Shubman has made his case stronger,” agreed former chief selector MSK Prasad, under whose tenure Gill had made his international debut in January 2019 in an ODI versus New Zealand in Hamilton. “Shubman is more mature now and he has done very well to grab the opportunities with both hands. He’s looking much more assured of his game now. He was always looked at as someone with lots of talent and that was why he was drafted into the side for the New Zealand ODIs in 2019.

“But now that there’s more maturity in him, that has added to his confidence. And when you grow with confidence, it certainly reflects in your performance,” Prasad explained. 

 Playing back-to-back IPL finals in 2021 and this year for Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Titans, respectively, has also played a role in Gill’s growth, Prasad feels. “For someone of his age, to play two consecutive IPL finals in such a pressure situation does strengthen the mindset,” Prasad stated.

All said and done, is it a little too early to be so sure about Gill? The bowling attack of Zimbabwe in particular is far from being a strong one, after all. 

“It’s not about whether the bowling attack was Zimbabwe’s or of any other team. Shubman was under pressure as he had to get runs to stay in the reckoning. That’s where the focus has to be,” Devang Gandhi, also a former national selector, said.  “Even KL Rahul was there. But he scored just 1 and 30 against the same attack,” Devang, currently the Bengal U-19 head coach, added.



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