IPL 2023: Shubman Gill rises to highest echelons in shortest format. Gill scored 890 runs from 17 games at an average of 59.33 and strike rate of 157.80 in IPL 2023.
The moment Deepak Chahar dropped the regulation catch of Shubman Gill at backward square in the second over of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 final, the silence among all the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) players and fans showed how costly this could prove to be. Since that lifeline, Gill took himself to another level to add another 36 runs in 16 balls thanks to some glorifying boundaries and sixes.
The moment he was undone by a superb stumping by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the relief in the yellow camp told that they snatched the cushion of extra 15-20 runs from the defending champions, Gujarat Titans (GT), by sending back Shubman Gill, who finished this season with 890 runs in 17 games at an average of 59.33 and strike rate of 157.80 including four fifties and three centuries.
International cricket exposure evident in Gill’s batting masterclass
Unlike all the last seasons of IPL, Gill had the vital exposure of international cricket in this new season which has helped him in growing and understanding his own strengths and weaknesses.
Since being a regular member of the Indian team after the Caribbean tour in June 2022, Gill has only made sky-high strides in the 50-over format of the game and his double century at the start of the year was an example of his temperament. The moment he scored a fighting Test century against Australia in Ahmedabad during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy (BGT) 2023, the whole world saw a young player getting transformed to the highest grade; his 169.72 strike in a short span of T20I career of seven games is not a bad record to have, especially for someone like him who hasn’t earned fame as an aggressor.
India’s biggest megastars bat to a certain template: from Sachin Tendulkar to Virat Kohli, everyone has their own style of play but the common factor of most of them is taking minimum risk. Gill too has tried to pick up the brains of Kohli and Rohit Sharma and the best part about him is that he has shown quick development in every game.
Gill’s top-quality knocks have fired up his strike rate
The evolution and immense maturity that Shubman Gill has brought to his game in this new season has just put him in a different bracket from the rest. In the past, there were instances where Gill even after starting well, used to slow down in a certain phase of the game and the ask of the situation brought his downfall. This season was different and his records have shown the contrasting numbers.
After remaining century less for five seasons and then smashing three centuries in one season and that too at an age of just 24 has taken Gill to a different echelon. In the two seasons prior to 2023, Gill managed 101 boundaries besides 23 sixes; but he just ramped up the numbers with 33 sixes in IPL 2023, the third-highest of the season while his 85 fours are the most of the sixteenth edition of the tournament.
Among the batters who have notched up 600+ runs in this season, only Suryakumar Yadav (181.14) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (163.61) have batted with a better strike rate then Gill. The Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, the home ground for GT has been Gill’s special place to bat where he cracked 630 IPL runs at an average of 70 and strike rate of 157.50 thanks to his three half centuries and two hundreds.
“It’s very important to start well and I have started well; I was getting 40s and 50s and at the end of the tournament, I have converted them into big ones,” Gill said after receiving the award for the ‘Most Valuable Player of IPL 2023’.
Gill’s simple batting mechanics gels well with orthodox shot selection
The best part about class players in any generation of the game is how comfortable and easy they make any shot look like. Some of the shots Shubman nailed in this tournament gave the same kind of indication. He exuded confidence of a man at the peak of his game, ready with answers to any bowling line-up thrown to him.
Most of his boundaries this season were aimed mainly to find gaps in the field besides going for quick runs without trying to bash every ball - a style of play without any risk. Even when he trains, his focus generally remains on maintaining a still head with minimal and open back lift and controlled feet movement. And even after all these, the sweetest part is that he could send the ball wherever he wants.
Being one of the strongest members in all formats for Indian team, Gill has kept himself in a zone where he doesn’t often play those unorthodox shots just like Virat Kohli, who has publicly accepted the fact of how these practical cricketing shots have helped him to maintain stability in all three formats. Very hardly one would find Gill trying to scoop or reverse sweep a bowler; instead of that, he would wait for the ball to come before using his feet and time it over the bowler’s head for an eye-catching shot.
“What truly impressed me about Shubman’s batting was his remarkable temperament, unwavering calmness, hunger for runs and astute running between the wickets,” Sachin Tendulkar praised Gill in a social media post.
Gill’s 129 in Qualifier 2 was a batting masterclass from a different generation
When Shubman Gill missed out by just 6 runs on his maiden IPL century, he expressed that it was just halfway point of the season and he would record many more hundreds by the time the tournament ends. Surely, he spoke those words having huge trust on his own game.
Even though they had already qualified for the playoffs before their last league game, Titans didn’t want to lose the winning momentum against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Chasing 199, Titans lost Wriddhiman Saha early, but Gill stood there like a firing protector. Out of his 33 sixes in IPL 2023, eight came in that game at the Chinnaswamy Stadium and he looked to hit them mostly where he wanted to.
The winning roar from Gill, moments after he thumped Wayne Parnell over long-on for a six to register his second century of the season, tells that a new player of this generation has fast forwarded himself with some of the biggest names of Indian cricket.
If that evening wasn’t enough, then his 129 against Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 on a big stage under pressure was the ink with which one could pen down a poem itself. He seemed to involve a new trigger movement from middle to off and opening up the leg side to try and use as much pace from the bowler, helping him to put the ball behind square. That technical display was followed by wild six-hitting abilities; one couldn’t help but wish him to see batting for longer periods.
Tim David too perhaps didn’t realise the aftershock when he dropped Gill early in his innings. The six he nailed against Cameron Green forced the crowd to stand up on their feet before he moved a little to time the other deliveries. A total of 129 runs in 60 balls with the help of seven boundaries and 10 sixes were just few numbers of his unblemished character.
With the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 knocking on the door, and many more assignments to come in the near future, Gill will look to shape himself in the same way he has in this IPL season - a magician of proper timing and batting mechanics besides his transformation into a beast.