India are not only producing favourable results in white-ball cricket in the lead-up to the upcoming World Cups but also delivering on captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid’s plans for creating a solid bench strength, keeping one eye on the future.
While a lot has been said about the cramped cricket calendar, India have certainly made good use of it by focusing on workload management and grooming young talents for bigger challengers. While the likes of Deepak Hooda and Suryakumar Yadav made good use of the opportunities in Ireland and England to cement their spots in the Indian T20I side, Shubman Gill is slowly but surely making a case for himself in the ODI set-up.
Gill, who shot to prominence after a stunning U-19 World Cup in 2018, made his Test debut as early as 2020 and has managed to keep himself in the mix with some important knocks under pressure, including the famous Gabba Test match win Down Under in 2021.
However, Gill is racing ahead of his former U-19 World Cup teammates, in making a strong case for the opening slot in ODI cricket. Gill, who made his ODI debut in 2019, had played only 3 matches before he toured West Indies earlier this year.
Gill has showcased improved maturity and shot selection so far in white-ball cricket in 2022. After putting behind a disappointing campaign with Kolkata Knight Riders last year and shining for Gujarat Titans in their title-winning run in 2022, Gill is making a mark for himself in ODIs.
After Rohit Sharma was rested for the ODIs against the West Indies, Gill partners Shikhar Dhawan and the two seem to have struck a fine chemistry that is giving the team management and the selectors another option.
Gill and Dhawan have stitched 3 100-plus stands in India’s last 4 ODIs. Gill topped the scoring charts with 205 runs in the 3 ODIs against the West Indies while Dhawan finished second with 168 runs. Both of them hit 2 fifties and missed out on centuries by fine margins in the Caribbean.
The senior pro and the young gun continued their rich vein of form in the first ODI against Zimbabwe, helping India to a 10-wicket win in the first of a 3-match series on Thursday, August 18. Gill hit 82 and Dhawan 81 as the duo added 192 runs for the opening wicket – the highest opening partnership for India against Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe in ODIs.
‘ENJOY BATTING WITH GILL’
Speaking about the chemistry with his new opening partner, Shikhar Dhawan, on Thursday, said he is enjoying batting with Shubman Gill at the top of the order.
“I am enjoying batting with the youngster [Gill] and I feel like a youngster too. I enjoyed the consistency from West Indies. My rhythm with Gill has settled nicely. The way he bats and times the ball is lovely to watch. He has shown the consistency in converting fifties into bigger fifties,” Dhawan said.
Gill was often criticised for his inability to convert starts into big knocks, especially in the IPL. However, sharing the crease with Dhawan seems to have helped him understand the importance of being out in the middle for long, according to former India cricketer Maninder Singh.
“They are complementing each other. If you see Shubman Gill’s career as well, he did score runs quickly at the start of his career. He was scoring those attractive 30s and 40s but since he started batting with Shikhar Dhawan. In the 4 innings they have batted together, they have 3 century partnerships and Shubman Gill has got 3 fifties.
With the 2023 World Cup set to be held in India, Shubman Gill has certainly put himself in the race for the backup opener slot. Despite the runs coming against relatively weaker bowling line-ups, Gill has won a battle against himself in showing consistency and composure.
“They get along really well, there is great chemistry between them. I think it’s their 6th (4th) innings and it was their 3rd hundred-run partnership as well. it’s good for them, good for India in the case of Shubman Gill in the future,” Robin Uthappa told the broadcasters.
The old guard is certainly helping the young gun put his hand up and grab the selectors’ attention.
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