Playing late and the ability to leave the right delivery are considered the perfect traits for a batter to achieve success in English conditions. Shubman Gill found it out the hard way at The Oval on Thursday afternoon.
Scott Boland had been hitting the right length from the outset and offering very little leeway to the openers. Boland is known for his pinpoint accuracy and ability to relentlessly target that top-of-off stump line.
Rohit Sharma had been dismissed three balls earlier and Gill needed to show some caution. As Boland delivered one outside the off stump, Gill didn’t extend his stride enough to cover his off stump against possible lateral movement. It jagged back off the seam to knock off the stumps as Gill misjudged Boland’s natural angle and offered no stroke.
The opener’s dismissal is sure to stoke the debate over the effect of IPL on his temperament and technical ability. Even before the India innings started, Sunil Gavaskar spoke about the challenges the batters faced and the adjustments needed to succeed.
Only Cheteshwar Pujara had been playing first-class cricket in the County Championships for Sussex but the experience hardly helped. Pujara was bowled in almost identical fashion as he hardly showed any feet movement and decided to leave a Cameron Green delivery which darted back off the seam.
The Indian batters had to blame themselves for their dismissals barring Virat Kohli, who was the victim of a beast of a delivery. Luckily, Ajinkya Rahane survived a leg before decision because Cummins had overstepped. However, there was no denying that the Indians had failed miserably on a wicket which offered runs and the lack of proper practice matches in these conditions showed.
Perhaps the Indians could have taken a leaf out of Smith’s determined innings on the art of leaving a delivery and constructing an innings. Simply put, the Indians lacked the mentality to play a long innings and survive.