Shubman Gill: India’s present and future with bat

Gill has scored his first Test century in Bangladesh, back-to-back one-day centuries

by Soumayashree Mishra

People who enjoy cricket gush about the aesthetics of left-handers for reasons that are never fully understood. Better cover drives come from the left hand. Late cuts made with the left hand are slower. Shubman Gill is a left-hander who uses his right hand. He makes all of his shots look effortless, with the exception of the occasional dismissal like the Indore Test. He is tall, lean, graceful, and more made of willow than the bat in his hand. He bends in the breeze. He possesses the strength that comes with tensile strength, a slimness that returns to its original shape and can exert all of that movement’s force.

Since December, Gill has scored his first Test century in Bangladesh, back-to-back one-day centuries, including 208 against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, and India’s highest-ever T20 score of 126 not out against the Kiwis in less than three months. Even so, he was benched to begin the current series against Australia. Rahul’s chance didn’t come until after two games in which he failed to score. The 128 in Ahmedabad would typically buy a long run in the side for most teams. This is not what that history suggests, according to India’s pattern.

From the moment Gill made his Australian debut, it was obvious that he was unique. He got off to a good start in Melbourne with 45 and 35 not out and Sydney with 50 and 31. His 91 in Brisbane changed the game. Before anyone else, Gill took on the Australians in the fourth inning, flashing drives and cross-bat shots, including a memorable cut of Mitchell Starc for six. He started by shaking them. Through his efforts, the pursuit of 328 was within Rishabh Pant’s and Washington Sundar’s grasp, enabling them to capture it. Gill was the first to end Australia’s Gabba streak.

Gill’s development has always seemed to be inevitable. He had been scoring a lot at every age-group level even before that World Cup, frequently a few years ahead of turn. In 2013 and 2014, he received the BCCI Junior Cricketer Award twice. Before the rest of the world took notice, Rahul Dravid, Gill’s junior coach in the late 2010s, had predicted Gill’s greatness. At that World Cup, Gill cemented his entry into the elite league with a memorable 100 against Pakistan and three 50s while playing for Prithvi Shaw’s team that won the competition.

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