Shubman Gill to be in focus

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“Strike-rate is overrated”, said one of the promising cricketers of this generation, Shubman Gill in April 2021. We are not sure of Gill’s present thought process but his current batting statistics over last few months have been quite different. Shubman Gill entered the arena of Indian Premier League after receiving the Player of the Tournament award in India’s 2019 Under- World Cup triumph. He scored 372 runs in six matches including a hundred and three half-centuries and was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders as one of the three Under-19 World Cup winning youngsters.

Gill’s first season with the franchise was decent. He played as a middle-order batter and scored 203 runs in 13 games for KKR at a strike rate above 146. KKR decided to make him an opener in next season and his strike-rate dropped. In 14 matches Gill scored 296 runs including three fifties at a strike rate of 124.36. This hammered the entire team batting as Gill was taking time to settle down before opening up. IPL In 2020, the Indian Premier League was moved to the UAE that saw Gill struggling even more on the slow tracks. During IPL 2020 and 2021, his strike rate went below 120 although he scored more runs that previous seasons. He kept on scoring fifties at the top that failed to provide a speedy start to the side.

Following this Gill was released from Kolkata Knight Riders just ahead of the IPL 2022. While he was released by his old franchise, Gujarat Giants, the newcomers acquired his service immediately. His batting improved and he scored 483 runs in 16 matches at a strike rate above 132. He smashed four IPL fifties last year including his career best 96 off 59 against Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League. In a low-scoring final against Rajasthan Royals, Gill’s 45 helped Gujarat Giants complete the chase with ease. the Indian conditions better and focused on anchoring the innings. Interestingly he started the IPL 2022 with a duck and went on to become the second highest run-scorer for his team with 483 runs to his name, just below Hardik Pandya who accumulated 487 runs.

The 50-overs format suits Shubman Gill the best where he can anchor the inners. The opening slot is therefore a better place for him than the middle-order, especially in the T20s as he gets time to settle down. Teams look for hard- Hitters as the format is obsessed with sixes and high strike-rates. But with time, even the shortest format of cricket is changing. With Gujarat Giants asking Gill to open the match and allowing him to anchor, Gill can expect to have another memorable IPL with his current team. But an anchor should know how to shift gears when needed. KL Rahul has done over the years, helped him win Orange Caps but he failed to win any title for his team.

But Gill needs to do the opposite. Gill has done that several times. He has approached differently based on match conditions. There have been matches where he batted above 180 strike rates. Moreover, Gill has been going through a purple patch. Over last 12 months, he has been scoring runs everywhere. In 21 ODIs, he hit four hundreds to score 1262 runs with a strike rate of 109.45 and average of 74.23. In five Test matches, 332 runs at an average of 59.18 with two centuries. comes to the T20s, Gill has been outstanding to say the least. He added 202 runs including an unbeaten 126 off just 63 deliveries from six T20Is. Six T20 Internationals are very small sample but his game has improved. Gill is doing the same thing but with better understanding of match situations. Hence, this could be the ideal time for Gill to work more on his T20 abilities and bring the balance teams need. The fact that Gill’s T20I century and his maiden Test century recentl y came in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s home ground may work as an added advantage for him in upcoming IPL.

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