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Shubman Gill’s Test trajectory needs a desperate reboot

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Last updated on 26 Jan 2024 | 06:31 AM
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Shubman Gill’s Test trajectory needs a desperate reboot

Post IPL 2023, his Test scores read - 13, 18, 6, 10, 29*, 2, 26, 36, 10, and 23 - an average of 19.22 with one 30-plus score

2023 was crazy for Shubman Gill. He bossed the IPL and plundered over 1000 runs in ODI cricket while casually upping his brand game to become the fresh heartthrob of the nation. While he had no reasons to complain, one thing missing from his resume, though, was a domineering run in Test cricket - a format he claims he loves the most. 

Gill’s ability in red-ball format, particularly since that counter-attacking 91 in Gabba, has rarely been questioned - neither should it be - but the recent fall from the grace has given enough fodder to keep the chatter going. And those doubts are not without substance either. You see, post IPL 2023, Gill’s scores in Test cricket read - 13, 18, 6, 10, 29*, 2, 26, 36, 10, and 23. An average of 19.22 with one 30-plus score. 

On a Hyderabad deck where Yashasvi Jaiswal made batting look so easy, Gill looked a pale shadow of his white-ball self. Despite being a very good player of spin, he was tentative against the likes of Tom Hartley and Joe Root. Instead of being proactive to take on the spinners, as Jaiswal did, Gill was being extremely reactive - almost like waiting to be dismissed. 

The Punjab batter has seen a fair bit of struggle in alien conditions already. He struggled against incoming deliveries in England and South Africa. But one can cut some slack there because you need special skills and practice to be able to negotiate the challenging conditions on offer. However, in Uppal, he was given a wicket not so different from any of the pitches he has grown up playing in his career. It was disappointing and a letdown of the trust he was massively given by the team management.

Then the question arises - how long can India continue to persist with Gill? Truth be told, jettisoning him is not an option anymore.

The management is looking at him as a long-term successor to Cheteshwar Pujara. He is technically sound, has the skills to drive a hard bargain, and, more importantly, he is the poster boy of Indian cricket, waiting for the captaincy crown to be bestowed upon him. It is also important to protect the confidence of a player who has shown a lot of promise in the past and still continues to have a stronghold in other formats. 

When India decided to move away from the duo of Pujara and Rahane, it was a brave call. Reverting back to the past doesn’t solve any problem. It was the reason why Rahane wasn’t called back after the Windies series and why Rajat Patidar is now a member of the Test squad. 

But if the indications from Hyderabad - heck, the last year - are anything to go by, Gill really needs to step up. We’re just one innings down - nine more to go. If he can hold his ground, who knows, things can quietly turn around very soon.

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