IPL 2023: Shubman Gill 2.0 stands between Chennai and a fifth crown
The debate on Shubman Gill, the showstopper in IPL 2023 in the business-end of the tournament, will be the most appetising one in the coming weeks
Is it then time to say that Indian cricket has found the heir apparent for it’s biggest batting icon in the new millennium—Virat Kohli? The debate on Shubman Gill, the showstopper in IPL 2023 in the business-end of the tournament, will be the most appetising one in the coming weeks—but there’s no doubt that the process of handing over the mantle has begun.
The history of Indian cricket has been blessed with the lineage of throwing up the right contender for the star batter’s spot over last half-a-century. If it was a young Sunil Gavaskar announcing his arrival in the 1971 tour of West Indies, the prodigious Sachin Tendulkar took centrestage as a teenager in 1989 and launched into a marathon career before Kohli took over after emerging initially as a white ball talent.
The landscape of the sport has changed in the last decade where excellence in white ball cricket (or shall be say T20?) is a must in order to be considered a serious all-format player. The word strike rate has become a benchmark – or else one is labelled as the red ball batter—and this was a lesson well learnt by a young Gill after Kolkata Knight Riders, his previous franchise, released him ahead of the 2022 mega auction.
Well, KKR’s loss turned out to be Gujarat Titans’ gain as the new franchise rode on another breathtaking Gill show (129 off 60 balls, strike rate 215) on Friday night for their second final in as many appearance in IPL on Sunday. A quick recap of his previous two centuries will only illustrate this changing facet in his game—101 off 58 (174.13) and 104 off 52 (200), and it sums up the arrival of Shubman Gill 2.0 for you.
‘’I expect he continues to bat like this in the coming matches,’’ said Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai Indians captain after the second qualifier in Ahmedabad—and it’s easy to see why. In barely 10 days’ time, the Indian skipper will be walking out to open the innings with Gill against Australia in the World Test Championship (WTC) final at The Oval, where a solid start from both is a pre requisite to take charge of the winner-takes-all Test.
The talk in the cricketing circles since last night is whether they had just watched the most attractive century of the IPL in recent memory? The richest T20 league of the world, in it’s 16-year-journey, has seen several classy knocks from master batters—with only Kohli and Jos Buttler having scored more centuries than Gill in a single season (four each in 2016 and 2022, respectively).
The 23-year-old, who stands out for his equanimity in personality and on the crease, rates Friday’s effort as his best T20 century and with good reasons. If the high stakes of the match before a 77,000-plus home crowd was one, Gill paced the innings with a maturity that makes him so exceptional—if the first fifty was almost a sedate one, he literally exploded in the second half to reach the next 50 in 17 balls.
Making use of a relatively inexperienced bowling attack of Mumbai, Gill selected the shorter side of the ground to send his sixes soaring almost at all—the most disdainful of them being a tennis-like swat for a flat six off Cameron Green over mid wicket. It was not quite the Gill we know but by then, he had already dished out an exhibition of supreme timing and power at all parts of the ground.
Now third in the list of all-time high run-getters in a IPL season with 851 runs, Gill certainly stands as the biggest obstacle between Chennai Super Kings and their dream for a fifth title under Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The canny ‘MSD’ will try to slow him down with spinners—which will make for an interesting battle.