With just 62 days between Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw, the two young men are considered to be the future of Indian cricket. However, being of a similar age and coming in at the top of the order, they are also in a position where comparisons between their skills and potential are inevitable.
Which of them is likely to have the longer career? There are a few pointers that we can rely on to answer that question.
With a Test hundred already under his belt, it would be easy for Shaw to believe that he is currently ahead in the race to be India's next best batsman. Indeed, you only have to delve into Shaw's first-class record, where he has over 2000 runs at an average of 61, to see why many believe he will go on to be a great of the game.
However, with the emergence of Gill, things aren't so certain for the young spark.
After 21 first-class games, Gill has 2133 runs at an even higher average than his counterpart - 73. Both sets of statistics are incredible, but Gill's are considerably better.
To compound his worries, Shaw was slapped with an eight-month doping ban after testing positive for terbutaline during the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament. With so much time on the sidelines, and Gill in great form for Punjab in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy - where he scored an excellent hundred against Vidarbha in December - Shaw's place in the pantheon of future Indian greats started looking uncertain.
The showdown between the two young men came in a white-ball series, where India A took on New Zealand A. The two would only play in the same team twice, in the second warmup game and the first unofficial ODI.
It is safe to say Shaw had the better of that battle, scoring a 100-ball 150 in the warmup game and a stroke-filled 48 in the unofficial ODI. Gill, on the other hand, managed scores of 24 and 30.
However, an important point to note is that Gill was the captain in both the matches. There is no doubt that as the more experienced player, Shaw will have taken that as a slight on his own leadership qualities. Which is why it was all the more remarkable that he ended the series with the upper hand, with his performances earning him his first ODI caps in the series against New Zealand.
But Shaw was disappointing in that outing, with a top score of 40 in 3 innings. To compile his woes, Gill has been scoring prolifically in the unofficial Tests taking place between India A and New Zealand A, with scores of 83, 204* and 136.
So the Indian team seems to be back at square one, unsure about which one to pick for the upcoming Test series against New Zealand. Rohit Sharma's injury, however, means there is certainly an opening place up for grabs alongside the in-form Mayank Agarwal.
It is unclear whether Shaw's previous Test experience will count in his favor, or if Gill's sublime red-ball form will see him given his first Test cap. But any one of them being picked would spell trouble for the other, as India's top 5 is currently settled; the unused batsman would drop even further down the pecking order when Sharma returns from injury.
The good news for Indian fans is that the competition does not seem to be affecting the two players. Gill recently told reporters, "Both of us have performed well in the opportunities that we have got. It depends on the team management who they will pick. So it's not like there is a fight between us."
The neutrals are just excited to see both of the two potential stars in action. And Indian fans will be hoping that the management picks the right man to bring success against New Zealand.Published 14 Feb 2020, 18:34 IST