New Zealand vs India 2019: Analyzing Shubman Gill's situation ahead of the last two ODIs
Against many expectations that suggested the series would be a closely-contested affair between two cricketing heavyweights, the Men In Blue have made light work of Kane Williamson's side with three wins on the bounce.
India have taken an unassailable 3-0 lead in the ongoing series, having recorded comprehensive victories by margins of 8 wickets, 90 runs and 7 wickets. This has led to one realistic prediction -- for Shubman Gill to debut for the national side in the two remaining games.
Fueled by the fact that Virat Kohli is rested for the last two one-dayers, the series is sealed and because of his recent form in the domestic circuit, Gill is widely tipped to hit the ground running for India, and grab the opportunity with both hands.
Having claimed the player of the tournament in the Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2018, Gill confirmed himself as a prospect to the fraternity. But he took us all by surprise by fitting into the Ranji Trophy setup like a duck to water. With an astounding average of 103 this season, along with an aggregate of 47.72 from 37 List A games, he has established himself as a potential world-beater.
Even the skipper lavished praise on the teenager, claiming:
"Shubman is a very exciting talent and I saw him bat in the nets and I was like wow I was not even ten percent of that when I was 19."
But, what about his present status in the side? Will he get to play in the fourth ODI? He may not.
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma pick themselves at the top of the order, while the absence of Virat Kohli means that Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya are sure to play, especially because Rayudu and Karthik took India over the line last time out.
With Dhoni set to return to the XI, it looks like Dinesh Karthik will play as a batsman again. After the top two, Rayudu, Karthik, Jadhav, Pandya and Dhoni, alongside Gill of course, are in contention to play. But with the spin twins expected to play with three pace bowlers, only four of the above six will get a go.
Now, considering Gill plays, where should he bat? Earlier, the 19-year-old had affirmed that he would like to go at the top of the order. But, considering the vacancy created by the absence of Kohli, it would be too much to ask of the middle order and rest either Dhawan or Rohit Sharma. So, that option can be discarded.
He can come in at number 3 or 5, but considering the team balance, it would be better to push him down the order. Dhawan hasn't really capitalized on his starts, so giving Gill a go at number 3 would pile pressure on the young sensation. Also to add, be it in domestic cricket or the IPL, Rayudu has thrived while batting at number 3.
Hence, the number 5 position would be more suitable. His elegant strokeplay, ability to rotate strike with aplomb and accelerate is perfectly fabricated for this position. With Pandya and Dhoni to follow, he will also have the license to play according to his strengths and moreover, portray his natural game.
It will be interesting to see if he plays or not, but with an important series against Australia left to play before the World Cup 2019, there should be no issues in granting the youngster a chance.