This article explores the bright future Shubhman Gill holds for Kolkata Knight Riders and possibly for the Indian Cricket Team.
For players looking to test their knowledge by playing fantasy cricket – they are faced with the problem of the restriction on picking up the number of star players. The crucial thing then becomes to select some relatively less known names. Fancy11 is profiling a player who has a very promising future and can help you win big in fantasy apps.
- Defining The Pedigree Of Gill
A boy from Fazilka district of Punjab, whose father had brought him to Chandigarh for his cricket has gone onto make a lot of noise for a 21 year old budding cricketer in India.
Shubhman Gill first burst into the scenes when he was named in the Under-19 squad of India, that was to be played in New Zealand. Scoring 418 runs, he was named the Player Of The Tournament and played an instrumental role in India’s World Cup winning campaign.
He scored an unbeaten 102 against Pakistan in the semifinals, against what was arguably the best bowling attacks of the tournament that had Shaheen Afridi in their ranks. Gill proved his mettle time and again that he was well ahead his age group.
The IPL auction in 2018 saw Kolkata Knight Riders bag him for a whopping ₹1.8CR deal. Shubhman Gill made his Ranji Trophy debut for Punjab. In a recent season, he amassed close to 1100 runs in only 9 matches at an average of 78 and a highest score of 268. All of his most influential knocks have come when he’s batting at the top order.
Delhi Capitals have given their youngest Indian recruit in U-19 World Cup winning captain, Prithvi Shaw full licence to go out and express himself in the middle. But Kolkata Knight Riders have failed to do so with Shubhman Gill so far.
On the other hand, Shubhman Gill is slightly different from the youngest generation that have made their names with fancy shots and performances that leave the audience astonished. Rishabh Pant is in that audacious category of players who has stunned the cricketing world with his fearlessness no matter where has he gone in the world.
Rishabh Pant was the first batsman in Test History to open his test account with a six. He did that against Moeen Ali in the overcast conditions of England. That is what the young generation has got along with them. They believe there’s nothing that they cannot achieve with their sheer self belief and aggressive shot making, which is of course meant in all good sense.
But Gill is the more old school, copy book style player. He will take his time at the crease, would want to feel one or two right in the middle of his willow, nudge the singles here and there and has that finesse that most of his contemporaries don’t possess.
Seeing a young batsmen focusing so much on doing the basics right, something that has given him overwhelming success in grade cricket, carrying that on into the IPL as well, is heartening to see. IPL 2018 saw Shubhman Gill hit 203 runs at a strike rate of 145. He had the finishing role to do along with his skipper Dinesh Karthik, who has praised the young player for his abilities on more than just a few occasions.
Shubhman Gill could have been sent up to open their innings which would have been the optimum use of a player of his class. For a batsman of his technique, you would seldom see him go for the glamor shot early on in his innings. Instead, he relies on timing the ball more than forcing himself to hard hit boundaries. Shubhman Gill should definitely be opening for his franchise.
- Making Use Of Limited Opportunities
In one of the matches in IPL 2019, Gill was made to open for Kolkata Knight Riders. His opening partner was Englishman Joe Denly, making his IPL debut. Denly departed for a golden duck but Shubhman Gill took the opportunity with both hands to score a fluent 65 from only 39 balls.
In a very circumspect approach, he had gone after the bowlers with proper cricketing shots that would call for comparisons between him and India’s skipper, Virat Kohli.
In that match, the Dinesh Karthik led KKR had made 3-4 forced changes as both their regular openers in Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine were down with flu and hence the promotion for young Gill. The bright performance didn’t deter the management as he was dropped down the order the very next match when their star players returned.
But Gill must be applauded in grasping the opportunity with both hands. Having done well in whatever little role he was allotted to has augured well for the young batsman as the franchise has now given us a glimpse of what they think of him in the long term.
- KKR’s Combination That Worked Against Gill
Historically, Chris Lynn did not come off as good as the KKR management would have hope. Yes, the Aussie has done a brilliant job for Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash. But it has been close to five years and Lynn was understandably not retained ahead of the IPL 2020 season. Like Micheal Hussey did it for the Chennai Super Kings in 2013, Adam Gilchrist for the Deccan Chargers in 2009, the KKR have been dependent on Chris Lynn to come up with consistent performances but it just has not happened for the right handed top order batsman. He was not retained and Lynn was grabbed by Mumbai Indians in the auctions preceding the 2020 season.
Sunil Narine has done a wonderful job with his pyrotechnics at the top. Being a pinch hitter, it’s only a bonus when he gets along and oh boy, how clean does he strike it when he’s on song.
Former Middle order mainstay Robin Uthappa has not really been consistent enough for the team’s liking. In 2019, against the Chennai Super Kings, he wanted to smash the very first ball he had faced for six, but rather got out. In a 214 run chase against Royal Challengers Bangalore, he scored 9 off 20 at the Eden Gardens in a match that his team went on to lose by 10 runs. Even a run a ball effort could have proved to be the difference between win and loss for KKR.
Even Uthappa was not retained for this season, clearing the way for Gill’s opening slot now. The removal of two main batsman at the top will certainly help Gill being accommodated as a more regular starter and definitely – to his much favoured spot.
- Finding The Talent
Back in 2005, Sourav Ganguly pushed relatively raw player at the international level, a certain MS Dhoni up at No. 3 against Pakistan. The long-haired Ranchi boy bludgeoned 148. He was smashing the Pakistani bowlers to all parts of the ground. Later, Sourav Ganguly was questioned as to what prompted him to promote MSD. The then Indian captain answered that you need to push young players into the toughest of situations. This is done mainly to see what they are made up of.
Either they will fail or you will get a match winning performance. You have to take that chance that could possibly make someone’s career. The move to push Virendra Sehwag to the opening slot in Test match cricket worked wonders for the Indian team.
On similar grounds, Dinesh Karthik and Co. need to give Shubhman Gill ample opportunities at the top and maybe he can sort their issue of their top order batsmen not firing enough, leaving Andre Russell too much to do at the back end of their innings.
- Moulding The Game To Your Strengths
In the return fixture of Kolkata Knight Riders hosting Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2019, the hosts won the toss and put the wooden spoon holders to bat first. There were many citing concerns like RCB’s over dependence on Kohli and ABD, and the Protea great sitting this one out as a precautionary measure to not let a slight niggle aggravate. Add to that RCB’s abysmal record while defending scores, and the home advantage to KKR, Virat Kohli had a lot to address.
The Indian skipper comes up with his half century off 40 balls first. In a very characteristic Kohli manner, running hard between the wickets, not many boundaries and digging it out there. One can give the credit to Moeen Ali for setting the carnage as Kohli went on to score his hundred in only 57 balls. His second fifty coming off just 17 balls.
Harsha Bhogle spoke about T20 cricket being a format where the batsmen had no time. Virat Kohli has defined the game to his liking, something that has worked for him. He seems to be in this bubble of his own, having his own sweet little time for everything. And that’s what sets him apart from the others.
Over the years, hard hitting, fancy shots, coming out and hitting sixes from the word go are facets of the game that one would not associate with Virat Kohli’s gameplay. Yet, he’s got 5 IPL centuries to his name. Shubhman Gill can learn a lot from his idol. There are numerous similarities between the way the two of them go about with their batting.
Once given regular permits at the top of the order, Gill can come up with performances that could benefit him and the KKR side immensely.
For a major part of 2018 and 2019, Shubhman Gill has given his IPL team whatever they have asked him for. Providing them with the finishing flourishes and so many times have we seen that he has not even arrived at the crease. Knowing that he does not contribute with the ball, it is a sheer waste of resources for the two-time IPL champions.
KKR must really consider giving their young star much more exposure at the top, throwing him against the best bowling attacks and who knows maybe he too will produce knocks that would leave everyone in awe and Shubhman Gill becomes the pillar of Indian cricket in the years to come.
- Future Leadership Prospects
There is a latest news update on Shubman Gill’s time with the Kolkata Knight Riders before the start of the IPL 2020 season. Head Coach in Brendon McCullum has hinted that he will look into young Shubman Gill as a candidate for the future leadership roles in the side.
For someone who has followed the Shubman Gill career trajectory, this should not come as a major surprise. He has always conducted himself in a professional manner so far. A calm head on his shoulders, he has been sinking in all the good times with some of the best players in the KKR dressing room.
These are big responsibilities being attached to Gill’s career which is still in it’s formative years. While Baz (Brendon McCullum) might be absolutely right in saying Gill has the right attitude for that kind of a role, we hope for Shubman Gill – India’s shining light – to have smooth transitions in his cricket career.
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