Does dengue threaten Shubman Gill's World Cup dream?

The in-form opening batter’s health updates have overshadowed the build-up to the match against Afghanistan

Cricketer Shubman Gill (photo: BCCI)
Cricketer Shubman Gill (photo: BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

If there is an element of concern gnawing at an otherwise upbeat Indian team ahead of their second match of the ICC World Cup, it’s the well-being of Shubman Gill.

The opening batter and Indian cricket’s flavour of the season, being treated for dengue in Chennai, will miss the next two matches against Afghanistan on Wednesday, 11 October, and the big game against Pakistan on Saturday, 14 October. 

Even as the hosts were toiling hard for a winning start against Australia on Sunday, 8 October, Gill was being administered a drip at the team hotel in Chennai. With his platelet count having dropped, the team management reversed their plans of flying him to Delhi — the venue for the next game — as Gill was shifted to a superspeciality hospital in Chennai for monitoring on Monday, 9 October.     

The BCCI said in a statement on Monday:  

Team India batter Shubman Gill will not be travelling with the team to Delhi on 9th October 2023. The opening batter, who missed the team’s first fixture in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 against Australia in Chennai, is set to miss the team’s next fixture against Afghanistan in Delhi on the 11th of October. He will stay back in Chennai and will be under the supervision of the medical team.

The latest update is Gill has now been released from the hospital. However, it’s a no-brainer that following a severe attack of dengue, the patient is left extremely weak — irrespective of age and general health — and this makes Gill an extremely doubtful starter against Pakistan too.

While it’s too early to say if he will be fit in time for India’s next game against Bangladesh, on 19 October, the battle with dengue has put a spanner in his World Cup dreams.   

What makes the 24-year-old, who a little over a year back was not even a certainty in India’s white-ball plans, such a vital cog in the wheel in the 50-overs format?

Not only has he worked his strength and strike rate, which have now made him a go-to batter in all formats, Gill became India’s 13th batter to cross the 1,000-run mark in ODIs in a calendar year during the Asia Cup. 

His tally now stands at 1,230 runs after yet another century against Australia in the three-match ODI series, with a 72.35 average, which has propelled him to world No.2 — right after Babar Azam in the ICC batters’ rankings.

What’s more, Gill — along with teammate Mohammed Siraz — are among those nominated for ICC’s Player of the Month award for September. 

The rescue act by the Kohli–Rahul duo against Australia, after India was reduced to 2/3, was an exception — and this is where Gill’s solidity at the top is an imperative against the quality attacks coming up.

Against Afghanistan, Rahul Dravid & Co will be inclined to persist with Ishan Kishan, whose slash off the first ball he faced from Mitchell Starc came in for some serious flak.   

For now, the priority is to have Gill back on his feet — and to not rush him back in such a long tournament, with energy-sapping conditions across several venues.

Rohit, of course, had his priorities straight when he said before the first game, ‘’I feel for (Gill). But in terms of, you know, me being the human being first, I want him to get well — not the captain thinking, oh, I want Gill to play tomorrow. No, I want him to get well. You know, he's a young guy, he's got (a) fit body, so he'll recover — he'll recover quick.’’ 

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