Until India’s tour of the West Indies, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja were considered among the team’s main all-format players. However, following the West Indies and Zimbabwe series, things might have changed a little. Perhaps, young Shubman Gill has also made some progress towards being an all-format player. He has been excellent in both the series’ in the one-day format. The young gun, who will soon turn 23, was the Player of the Series against both the Caribbean and Zimbabwe in ODIs. His scores in his last six one-day innings read as follows – 64, 43, 98*, 82*, 33 and 130.
With his performance in the last two series’, he has made the job of selectors extremely tough when it comes to picking the squad for the ODI World Cup that will be held in India next year. Gill was asked to open in the West Indies only because Rohit Sharma was rested for the one-day series. However, he performed incredibly and was retained in the team for the Zimbabwe series, with Rohit again rested. Till now, veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan and Rahul were first-choice players in the one-day squad along with Rohit. However, with Gill’s emergence, that equation could soon change.
The ease with which he has scored runs has stood out about Gill in the last two series. He has hardly looked rushed against any delivery. On the contrary, he has had ample time to play his strokes. Add to it; he has all the shots in the book to score all round the wicket. Left-arm spinner Axar Patel also observed at the post-match press conference after India’s win over Zimbabwe in the third ODI in Harare. He commented that Gill has learnt to turn over the strike a lot more and hardly plays dot balls, which means the pressure never builds on him or the team when he is in the middle and scoring. This is a simple but significant improvement in his game, which has positively impacted his play.
Gill must now look to take his game a level higher and not let his growth stagnate. Yes, he has done well in the last two one-day series, but it will be imperative to assess his performances fairly and not go overboard with praise. With all due credit to him, West Indies and Zimbabwe are two of the weakest sides in world cricket at present. Gill will be challenged a lot more against bigger sides, and that is where his true talent and temperament will come to the fore. The young Prithvi Shaw was placed on a very high pedestal after a couple of stunning knocks against an average West Indies attack. Unsurprisingly, his progress hasn’t been at the expected level.
Good enough to succeed in Tests, T20Is?
The bigger question about Gill is definitely about whether he can succeed in all three formats of the game. He does have the basic requisites for doing so. The right-handed batter is skilful, possesses a more than decent technique and has a solid temperament as well. Although he has had a disappointing start to his Test career – averaging just over 30 after 11 matches – he has shown glimpses of what he can go on to achieve. After a couple of decent knocks on debut, he scored a terrific 91 in the deciding Test at The Gabba. This knock was a top-quality one, for it came under pressure, in the fourth innings, in a must-win game and, not least of all, against a high-class Australian bowling attack.
Gill is yet to make his T20I debut for India. However, from what has been on display in the IPL, he has the talent to succeed in the 20-over format. These are still very early days in his international career, and assuming him would be jumping the gun. However, what has been established beyond doubt is that he is one for the future.