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No hundred, but Shubman Gill builds on Vizag ton with a flawless 91

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Last updated on 18 Feb 2024 | 05:46 AM
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No hundred, but Shubman Gill builds on Vizag ton with a flawless 91

There have been plenty of false dawns for Gill, but he has, for once, backed up a century with another knock of substance

Among the many 50+ scores in this Test match, only two knocks have been scored with a control percentage of 92% or more — Sarfaraz Khan’s 62 and Shubman Gill’s 91.

It’s a rather brutal coincidence that both the aforementioned knocks have ended in run outs, with the batter seeing his inning cut short for no fault of his.

After Sarfaraz got his heart broken on the first day, it was Gill’s turn to endure pain today (February 18). A fourth Test century — second in as many Tests — looked inevitable and there for the taking, but, completely against the run of play, Gill’s flawless knock was cut short by a moment of miscommunication. 

In effect, a 91 is no less special than a century, but this sport works in funny ways, wherein players are judged by milestones. 12 months down the line, should Gill not add to his century tally, nobody will mention that he scored an impeccable 91 in Rajkot. What will be pointed out is that ‘he has no tons in the last 12 months’.

That way, it’s a shame Gill missed out on a well-deserved ton.

But in the larger scheme of things, he’s done something he’s struggled to do all his career in Tests, which is back up a perceived ‘breakthrough knock’ immediately with another knock of substance. 

Post that 91 at the Gabba in 2021, Gill did not pass the 75-run mark in Tests for another 18 months. After the 128 in Ahmedabad against Australia, he went on a 12-innings run in which he averaged 18.81, posting no fifty-plus scores. There have been plenty of false dawns.

It’s still very early to call the century in Vizag a ‘watershed moment’, but India will be pleased to see the 24-year-old build on the ton in the last Test with yet another substantial contribution. 

The situation Gill walked in to bat here in Rajkot in the second innings was not too different to the one in the second innings in Vizag. 

He walked in knowing the side had a sizable first innings lead, but also knew that the game was far from ‘done’ due to how true the wicket was. He knew that India, despite being in control, needed at least one batter from their top-order to really take the game by the scruff of its neck.

He answered the call just like he did in Vizag to put his side in pole position.

Truth be told, England’s bowling was the flattest it has been all series, and their bowlers looked visibly exhausted. 

But having begun each of his first five innings in this series — including the second innings in Vizag — in fidgety fashion, Gill was in total control here in the second innings, batting with a control percentage of 92.0% in his first 25 balls.

Gill, far too often in Tests, has been guilty of throwing away starts after looking like a million bucks but in this innings, he built on the confident start and put the opposition to the sword.

Understandably, having compiled a flawless 91, Gill was absolutely livid that he got run out. 

Getting out in the 90s is brutal in itself. Getting run-out in the 90s? That must be up there with the worst feeling in the world.

However, the signs are good. If he can continue building on these knocks and find some consistency, he’ll get plenty more cracks at the three-figure mark in the weeks to come. 

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