For their Twenty20 side, the India team wants batters who go after bowling from the start. Current captain Rohit Sharma has set the example by changing his game according to the new template and going for his shots regardless of the match situation.
Moving forward after the World Cup, that’s the kind of players that are tried. Prithvi Shaw has a natural, ultra-aggressive game, but the selectors are still not convinced of his consistency.
Instead, Shubman Gill, his team-mate from the 2018 Under-19 squad, is one of the first to be tried as India aims to form the nucleus for the future squad. Compared to Shaw, Gill is a batter in the classic form, but he knows the demands of the shorter format and has shown that he has the extra equipment to fit in.
On Tuesday, the Punjab player provided more evidence with a 55-ball 126 against Karnataka in their Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy match at the Eden Gardens.
It was a statement to silence those who doubted his selection in the Indian T20 squad for the New Zealand series, for Shaw, who has put pressure on the selectors with impressive performances this season. The Mumbai batter was on good form for Mumbai in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s, their league-stage top scorer with a total of 285 in seven innings with a strike rate of 191.27.
In fact, Tuesday’s matches at the Eden Gardens were seen as a game between Gill and Shaw, with both players competing in the quarter-finals of the national T20 championship.
After Gill was blinded to Punjab in the morning, Shaw had a chance to match the performance of his U-19 teammates when he came to Mumbai against Saurashtra in the evening. However, the match did not go to plan for the Mumbai opener as he fell for just two runs. On the other hand, Gill didn’t put a foot wrong, hitting nine sixes to score with a strike rate of 229.09 to help Punjab to a total of 225 for four.
“It’s always good to see your name in the Indian team in any form and it’s time to show that I deserve that spot,” Gill said at the presentation ceremony after being named man of the match.
However, the two dashing lead-off batters are on course for an immediate face-off after Punjab won a high scoring thriller against Karnataka and Mumbai held off their courage to chase Saurashtra’s tally of 166 for eight to reach the semi-finals. Punjab will face Himachal Pradesh and Mumbai will face Vidarbha in the final four matches scheduled for Thursday.
Their overall effects are similar, but Gill and Shaw’s approach is different. Shaw again went hard against the Saurashtra bowlers, but things didn’t click on Tuesday when he was caught attempting to cut on a delivery from Chetan Sakariya. Gill said he built his innings after being set.
“We’ve seen there’s seam movement for the team that bowls first (at Eden Gardens), we talked about not losing wickets in the power play, that was the plan. Once you’re done you can score big and in the last game I made the mistake of going hard after not scoring high in the power play. As the ball ages, it’s easier to score and build momentum. In the last game I fell early and there was a great partnership, today Abhishek and Prabhsimran fell early, me and Anmolpreet had a partnership, (it) shows everyone in the team is in shape and we hit with a lot of confidence,” said Gill.
The 126 against Karnataka is no surprise. At the last IPL, the opener had taken its game to the next level to meet the demands of the format. He was the second highest run-getter for IPL champions Gujarat Titans in the 2022 season, scoring 483 runs in 16 innings with a strike rate of 132.32. With 46-ball 84 punches against Delhi Capitals and 59-ball 96 against Punjab Kings, he got everyone to sit up and take notice.
In a recent interview with ESPNCricinfo, he talked about how reducing point balls by relying more on rotational blow versus spin is the key to good hit speed. “I believe that the fewer point balls you play in T20s, the better your hitting speed will be. Almost all batsmen have the same limit percentage, but the ones with fewer point balls have a higher hit rate. In T20s, you need to know what the bowler is trying to do. Those who bowling in a set way allows you to dominate,” Gill said.
Short results: Quarter-finals:
Saurashtra 166/8 lost to Mumbai 168/8.
Bengal 199/6 lost to Himachal Pradesh 200/6.
Vidarbha 157/5 defeated Delhi 156/6.
Punjab 225/4 defeated Karnataka 216/6.