He didn’t reach a century, but the 98 was more than enough to seal his spot as the backup opener for Team India.
There was a lot at stake for Shubman Gill when he came out to bat, alongside his skipper Shikhar Dhawan, in the first ODI vs West Indies. Before the first ODI, Gill had played just three ODIs without any impactful totals. The next set of matches was going to decide his immediate future. With Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad already waiting in the wing, Gill knew the importance of capitalising on the chances. A couple of more failures would have pushed him below Kishan and Gaikwad in the pecking order.
He started the series on a high, playing a fluent knock with the help of six fours and two sixes before getting run out on 64. Gill drove, pulled, cut, and stepped out against the spinners, while his partner Dhawan struggled to get into the rhythm.
There was a shade of rustiness in his second innings, where he struggled against Alzarri Joseph and Jayden Seales in the beginning, but still managed to find boundaries five times for his 49-ball 43.
In both innings, Gill threw away his starts. Had he done a proper sprint instead of lazing to the crease, Gill would have made it before Pooran’s precise throw crashed into the stumps. In the second ODI, he went out attempting a cheeky reverse paddle against Kyle Mayers.
Just like his first two innings, there was a sense of calm around everything Gill did in the third ODI. Moreover, he didn’t attempt lazy runs, and totally missed the reverse paddle he attempted once against Akeal Hosein. Unlike the second ODI, that shot made more sense here. Hosein was bowling well, and had successfully managed to contain Gill and Iyer post rainbreak.
Hosein bowled with two boundary riders on the offside, and kept everything out of the batter’s reach. With the ball sticking a bit and turning away from the right-hander, Gill couldn’t go across the turn, and thus tried to nudge it beside the wicket-keepers. Despite being a great puller of the ball, he didn’t unleash this shot every time he was peppered by short-pitched deliveries.
He showed great restraint and alertness, fully aware of the risk involved in taking on short deliveries, bowled at a slower pace. Both Jason Holder and Jayden Seales dropped down the pace while banging in short. Gill responded by caressing it towards the mid-wicket and dealt in singles and doubles.
Instead of playing to his strength, Gill played to the situation, with a singular focus on getting a triple-figure score – he promised to get a big total after the second game. “My two knocks have given me a boost in confidence. Hopefully, I’ll go big in the 3rd match and that will be possible by converting the 40s and 50s into a big score,” Gill had said.
“The think tank has backed me to open and I am happy to deliver the goods. I felt good that they gave me the opportunity to open but unfortunately I could not convert it to 100,” he added.
He looked mindful of every little step, and even slowed down a bit when he reached closer to the three-figure mark. When he was just two runs away from what would have been his maiden ODI hundred, the rain arrived, and he remained not out at 98. He didn’t reach a century, but the 98 was more than enough to seal his spot as the backup opener for Team India.
“I tried to play according to the ball and let the instincts take over. I wanted only one more over, was hoping for that. The wicket played fantastically in all the three games. The ball was gripping a bit after 30 overs. Happy with my peformance,” said Gill, who was also adjudged as Player of the Series, in the post-match conference.
Featured Image Credit: Shubman Gill/Instagram