ICC World Cup: India, expect more from Shubman Gill, world's top ODI batter
The lanky opener, who displaced Pakistan's Babar Azam in the ICC rankings, has amassed 1,449 runs so far from 26 matches this year
His past year’s form in international cricket has certainly cemented Shubman Gill’s position as heir apparent to Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. A befitting recognition came on Wednesday, 7 November, when he became only the fourth Indian batter to top the ICC ODI rankings, while paceman Mohammed Siraj continued to top the charts among bowlers in the 50-over format.
Forced to miss the first two matches owing to a bout of dengue, Gill has since had a somewhat average tournament by his standards, with an aggregate of 219 runs from six outings so far, a flamboyant 92 being his top score against a modest Sri Lankan attack.
He had looked to be in good touch and been hitting the ball well, but his failures to convert promising starts into meaty scores have largely been overlooked, thanks to the relentlessly lethal Indian bowling attack that has made short work of some of the most potent batting sides in the group league matches.
India meet the Netherlands this Sunday at Bengaluru in what is otherwise an inconsequential tie. Not entirely so for Gill though, who would look to get a big one ahead of the knockouts. Thus far, it’s been Rohit Sharma’s high-risk batting in the powerplays which has made sure there is no undue rush when the chase gets into the all-too-important middle overs. Should the law of averages catch up with the Indian skipper in the knockout stage, the onus will be on the lanky Gill to take things deeper.
In the first nets session at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday, Gill was at his elegant best against the likes of Shardul Thakur, Prasidh Krishna and Siraj, taking them to the cleaners. He was equally severe on the local net bowlers, hitting them at ease into the stands multiple times. However, he looked a little uncomfortable against Bumrah during the practice session on odd occasions.
Gill, incidentally, toppled Pakistan captain Babar Azam from the top spot after a gap of two years in the ICC ODI rankings. He now finds himself in an exclusive club with 'master blaster' Sachin Tendulkar, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
Dhoni first became the top-ranking batter in 2006 when he broke Ricky Ponting’s record for the fastest batter to achieve the top spot, just 38 innings into his ODI career. He was last ranked no. 1 in 2010, but he stayed in the top 10 for quite some time before slipping out in the latter stages of his decorated career.
Tendulkar became No. 1 for the first time in 1996 and was last in the top spot in 2008, while Virat Kohli first became no. 1 in 2013 and also held the top spot for a four-year period between 2017 and 2021.
Gill has had a stellar year in ODI cricket, amassing 1,449 runs so far from 26 matches, in which he has hit four hundreds including a double century earlier this year against New Zealand. His average this year? A stunning 63.00. India would hope the youngster hits the same purple patch when it would matter most — the knockouts.
INDIANS AT THE TOP
Sachin Tendulkar - 1996 for the first time
MS Dhoni - 2006 for the first time
Virat Kohli - 2013 for the first time
Shubman Gill - 2023 for the first time