Shubman Gill 2.0: Still calm, but 'clinical and ruthless'
An aggregate of 333 runs from eight innings, with a strike rate of 142, makes Shubman Gill the highest scorer in the table-toppers of the Gujarat Titans team
The newfound confidence in Shubman Gill's voice tells you a lot about how—as a person and as a performer—he has been tempered into steel over the past two years. It has been a dream run for him in international cricket since the beginning of the year and the gifted batsman admits that it has reflected in his performance in the ongoing Indian Premier League.
An aggregate of 333 runs from eight innings (ahead of Tuesday's game against the Delhi Capitals) with a strike rate of 142 – something which had been his bugbear in the earlier years – makes him the highest scorer in the table-toppers Gujarat Titans team. What’s even more conspicuous is the new-found power with which Gill dispatches his sixes now and the ease with which he finds the gap in the field.
If the signs of the new inputs in his batsmanship were visible in the last season itself, when he played a key role in the debutant side’s pursuit of the title, Gill has taken it a step further this time around. Asked what it is that has brought about this new consistency in a media conference, Gill was polite but firm in his reply: "’I was consistent last year itself when I scored 490-plus runs, but yes, my exposure in international cricket for another year has certainly helped me."
The Gill of, say, two years back, still looking to do justice to the promise he showed after breaking into the IPL fresh from the Under-19 World Cup success in 2018, would not have been this forthcoming.
Not so diffident any more. Not after he has been riding a fabulous season in Indian colours, and capping it with a majestic 208 against a touring New Zealand in the Hyderabad one-day international (ODI) in January.
Coming back into the 'white ball' scheme of things for India soon after Ishan Kishan had pummelled a double century against Sri Lanka, the lanky and graceful Gill showed he was ready to dominate—on his own terms. It is no exaggeration to say that there are not too many Indian batsmen today whose back-foot punches, extra-cover drives or dismissive pulls carry the same wow factor as Gill's.
Such has been his impact in IPL 2023 that it has got the cricket fraternity, not to speak of his teammates, gaping in awe. Wriddhiman Saha, the keeper-batter of the Titans who often gets the best seat in the house as the fellow opener, said the other day: "Shubman is in the form of his life. It's so easy batting with him."
The Titans, who have been their consistent self again and made a habit of winning tighter games, certainly have a foot in the top four, with the obvious target now being that of clinching one of the top two spots for the first play-off.
Is there a risk of peaking too early, as teams have often flattered to deceive in the past? Their star batsman, of course, begged to differ: "I don't think we are peaking at the wrong time. Because the second half of the tournament is called the business end of the tournament, we are playing our best cricket right now," he observed.
"If you have seen our last two matches, the way we have performed, with the bat and the ball, it's been clinical and ruthless of us," Gill added.
In a way, that's also the redefined Gill for you—still calm, mild-mannered, but more clinical and ruthless...