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Pressure on Shubman Gill to score runs in second test against England

Updated on: 30 January,2024 07:00 AM IST  |  Hyderabad
R Kaushik |

Ever since Shubman was granted his wish to drop down to No. 3 last year in the Windies, things have gone pear-shaped

Pressure on Shubman Gill to score runs in second test against England

India’s Shubman Gill walks back after being dismissed for 23 on Day 2 of the first Test against England at Hyderabad recently. Pic/AFP

From the time he was named the Player of the Tournament during India’s victorious campaign at the Under-19 World Cup in early 2018, it was obvious that Shubman Gill was cut out for bigger things. In a class of his own at the junior level, the right-hander impressed not just with his sparkling strokeplay but also his wonderful temperament and game awareness.

It took the Punjab batsman nearly three years to break into the senior team, but he made an instant impact in Australia in December 2020, stacking up scores of 45 and 35 not out (second Test in Melbourne), 50 and 31 (Sydney), and 7 and a magnificent 91 in the final Test in Brisbane, where Rishabh Pant finished off the carnage by helping India become the first overseas side to conquer the Gabbatoir in nearly 35 years.

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Soon, the stylish right-hander made himself an integral part of national teams, becoming one of the few Indians to score centuries in all three international variants. In the West Indies last year, he was granted his wish to drop down to No. 3 in the Test batting line-up, but it’s since then that things have started to go pear-shaped.

At No. 3, Gill has made 6, 10, 29 not out, 2, 26, 36, 10, 23 and 0; his last century came 11 innings back, on a flat deck in Ahmedabad in March against Australia. In the first Test against England here, he looked short on confidence in the first innings, consuming 66 deliveries for his 23 and hardly playing a shot in anger, contrary to his natural grain overseas when he plays his strokes freely.

Hard hands aren’t the best way to tackle the turning ball, as former skipper and coach Anil Kumble pointed out. Gill clearly has what it takes to succeed at the highest level—he has a passable record in Tests despite his recent travails— and even though he has the backing of the team management, it’s time he started to pull his weight.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge for some of your young batsmen to adapt,” head coach Rahul Dravid admitted. “But they’ve got the skill and the ability. They haven’t just turned up out of nowhere. They’ve come here by scoring a lot of runs in domestic cricket, they are being picked on merit. Sometimes, it does take time for people to adjust. They’re working really hard, there’s a lot of thought going into a lot of their batting. It’s just a question of them looking to constantly keep improving and developing skills that will help them counter these kinds of conditions a little bit better.”

With Virat Kohli set to return for the third Test, the pressure is on Gill and Shreyas Iyer to come up with the goods in the second Test starting in Visakhapatnam on Friday. Otherwise, a stint on the sidelines will beckon.

Gill’s scores since he began batting at No. 3

6 v West Indies at Roseau, July 12-14, 2023

10 & 29* v West Indies at Port of Spain, July 20-24, 2023

2 & 26 v South Africa at Centurion, December 26-28, 2023

36 & 10 v South Africa at Cape Town, January 3-4, 2024

23 & 0 v England at Hyderabad, January 25-28, 2024

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