Flamboyant and fearless: How Shubman Gill made the opening slot his own

On the bouncy tracks of Australia, which also had a fair share of swing on offer for the fast bowlers, Shubman Gill’s fearless approach helped him get on top of the Australian quicks

Shubman Gill was destined for the opener’s slot, a position he slowly but surely made his own in the six innings he played Down Under for the national cricket team. In those many innings, the 21-year-old scored 259 runs at an average of 51.80, thereby making a strong case for himself as a frontline batsman.

An opener from the start

Batting higher up the order comes naturally for Gill, a position where he has scored heavily for his state (Punjab) in first-class and List-A cricket. Gill, who enjoyed phenomenal success in 2018, was voted player of the tournament as India won the ICC Under 19 World Cup. Following up on his success, he went to record a string of big scores in first-class cricket.

However, it was in the 2018-’19 Ranji season that he truly blossomed as an opener. Hitting a purple patch, he scored his runs almost at a Bradmanseque average with a top score of 268 against Tamil Nadu.

As a 19-year-old, he was ready to take the big leap in 2019, and in an exclusive interview with Indian Express, he had said that he was always a comfortable opening for his state team but the goal was to break into the Indian cricket team.

Playing franchise cricket for the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2018 and 2019 editions of the Indian Premier League, Gill was often sent out to bat at numbers 6 or 7. However, that was no deterrent for the youngster. “I am happy to play any role that my team wants me to,” Gill had told this daily.

Asked which role he preferred, Gill said, “I am an opening batsman and I always love to open.”

A year later, in IPL 2020, Gill was one of the key performers for KKR, opening the innings. The elegant right-hander scored 440 runs, including three fifties, in 14 matches. Finally, at the end of the year, Gill was asked

Key to success

Gill, whose classical technique and purity of stroke play has drawn many eyeballs, had also spoken about his intention to dominate bowlers. “Since I started playing the game, I played with an attacking mindset. Free-flowing batting, dominating the bowlers is what I like,” he had said.

Saying that his attacking approach helps him turn decent deliveries into boundary balls, Gill had said, “Picking the length early has helped me a lot. It gives you an extra bit of time to play your shots. As a batsman, I like to play my shots. I am not one of those who likes to take his time and then score runs. I love to dominate bowlers and picking the length early helps me do that.”

On the bouncy tracks of Australia, which also had a fair share of swing on offer for the fast bowlers, Gill’s fearless approach helped him get on top of the Australian quicks and play some delightful shots off the back foot.

His 91 on the final day of the Gabba Test was the key to India scripting a heroic and historic series win, which helped them retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy two years after the momentous triumph in 2018-’19.

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