One of the most prominent new talents to emerge in the recently concluded India tour of Australia is Shubhman Gill. The 21-year-old batsman, who has been known for his calm temperament and his languid backfoot drives. He plays for Delhi in the state-level cricketing tournaments and for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
He made his debut in the Boxing Day Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy; the second test of the fourth-test series that was played between India and Australia. In the six innings that he played, Shubhman Gill has scored a total of 259 runs, trailing Rishabh Pant (274); Cheteshwar Pujara (271), and Ajinkya Rahane (268). He got proper starts in five of six innings he played and has two half-centuries to his credit; one of which narrowly missed being converted into a century.
His performances have been credited for being crucial in scripting the turnaround that Indian fans were witness to in the test series. It had begun with a surprise loss after the team slumped to a total of 36 in the third innings of the first test. His batting skills and on-field temperament have been the subject of discussion among the fans and let us have a look at his on-field exploits.
India was far from winning the series when Shubhman Gill had walked out to open the innings in the Boxing Day test with Mayank Agawal. The team had scored one a record low total in the last test after a batting order collapse ended its innings to 36 and two of its key players, Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami, had departed before the second test.
All that did not seem to affect Shubhman Gill; who started batting with the grace and poise of someone who had already played test cricket earlier. His co-opener Mayank Agarwal fell early but he stuck on; and despite being dropped twice, he managed to score 45 in his first innings; and put up a vital partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara. Despite being an amateur in international cricket, he has displayed the calmness and maturity of a regular test player throughout the series, earning accolades from a lot of critics and fans.
Shubhman Gill Exquisite technique
Shubhman Gill has already earned a name for his technique. The tall batsman has been known for handling the short ball well; and is one of the players who have played the most number of balls in the entire series along with Pujara and Rahane. Experts have expressed their satisfaction with the way in which Gill has constantly handled the short ball.
The Australian bowlers kept pelting the Indian batsmen with the short ball throughout the test series. Shubhman Gill has a natural preference for playing on the backfoot; and the backfoot punch seems to be one of his most favourite shots. Gill’s preference for backfoot play makes him a player who drives less while playing. As has been pointed by many – but his technique has been quite useful in the racing pitches of Australia. In the last innings that he played; he kept on hitting Mitchell Starc’s short balls to the boundary – pulling, hooking, and punching. India had a target of 328, and Rohit Sharma fell early in the innings.
Gill and Pujara partnership
Gill and Pujara put a crucial partnership of 116 runs for the second wicket. Shubhman Gill kept on hitting and driving with grace throughout his innings. One critic even pointed out that Shubhman Gill was an instinctive opener – he seemed much more invested in seeing the ball through for the first few hours instead of reflexively hitting or driving the ball.
In fact, that paid wonderful dividends in the third test because for the second time in history, an opening pair from India put up two consecutive half-century opening partnerships of 70 and 71 respectively on Australian soil. The last time such a partnership was seen was when Syed Abid Ali and Farokh Engineer had put up two consecutive partnerships of 56 and 83, was back in the 1967-68 India tour of Australia.
Shubhman Gill exudes a quiet self-confidence in driving the ball around the field. He defends ball after ball with determination while toiling to save his team. His play combines both aggression and defence – both of which are crucial for any player to succeed at the highest level of cricket. Shubhman Gill has been a regular player in the Indian Premier League. Therefore, he is already a quick favourite among the Indian fans; and one can hope to see more of his stroke-play in the coming days.