Opinion: Shubman Gill: India's next ODI star?
Back in February 2017, a tall right-handed batsman made his debut for the Indian U-19 team against the visiting England U-19. In one of those innings, he smashed a short arm jab over mid wicket, extremely reminiscent of the star Indian batsman Virat Kohli. From then on, there was no stopping this talented young batsman Shubman Gill.
That was just a start of similarities between the two. His batting stance, running between the wickets, high strike-rate with less risky shots, adapting to different conditions quickly are all extremely similar to his idol Kohli.
His form at the U-19 World Cup 2018 was exemplary, scoring 372 runs in just five innings at an unbelievable average of 124. A hundred in the semi-final against arch-rivals Pakistan proved that he can handle high-pressure situations. India eventually went on to win the tournament and Gill was adjudged player of the series.
His biggest strength, just like his idol, is consistency. He has been scoring consistently right through the age group tournaments. Unlike many other young batsmen, he has been able to translate that consistency at senior level as well. He has twice been awarded BCCI’s ‘Best Junior Cricketer (U-14 and U-16) award’ in 2013-14 and 2014-15. In senior cricket, he has performed exceeding well in major tournaments such as Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy.
IPL 2018 was a big stepping stone for Gill as he was able to prove his class against World class bowlers. Coming in to bat at number late in the innings, he amassed 203 runs in 13 games at an outstanding strike rate of 146 for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
In the current season of the Ranji Trophy, he smashed a breathtaking 268 off only 328 deliveries to propel Punjab to a mammoth first innings score against Tamil Nadu. If this wasn't enough, he scored a blistering 148 off 153 balls which almost helped his team chase down an improbable target of 338 against Bengal.
He averages a daunting 82.50 in first-class cricket which is a tribute to his consistency. His strike rate is close to 80 in the longest format which means he can take the game away from the opposition in no time.
He can score briskly, he can play the anchor's role, he can open the batting, he can bat late in the order and can probably do anything which a team expects from a frontline batsman. His ability to play according to the situation makes him a perfect fit for the Indian ODI team.
In the current Indian batting line up, Shikhar Dhawan keeps blowing hot and cold, MS Dhoni is no longer the player that he once was, Jadhav getting frequently injured and Hardik Pandya is yet to prove his consistency with the bat. Gill can be used to add more solidity in the Indian ODI batting lineup.
Selectors should keep an eye on him because he definitely has the skill and the temperament to excel in any batting condition.