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IND vs ENG, 2024: Do-or-die Test series awaits Gill; Patidar, Easwaran potential backups for no. 3

England tour of India 2023-24: Who will be Shubman Gill's potential replacement for no. 3 position if fails? Rajat Patidar or Abhimanyu Easwaran, who can replace gill?

Shubman Gill averages 30.58 from 20 Test matches, will India look for his replacement | Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©X/Twitter)
Shubman Gill averages 30.58 from 20 Test matches (Photo: ©X/Twitter)

The year 2023 was a great example of how Shubman Gill has risen to the highest grade on the world stage. With 1584 ODI runs, he has cracked the code in both the white ball formats but is yet to perform at his best in Test cricket. 

In comparison with his limited overs cricket, Gill’s Test numbers in 2023 were really poor, collecting just 258 runs in 10 innings at an average of 28.7 with just one century. Apart from his numbers at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, he has struggled in every place and against all the opponents he has faced. 

Poor Gill finds his Test place in a do-or-die situation?

The same person who is breaking records so comfortably in white ball cricket is finding Test cricket so tough to deal with. His numbers so far in this format are mediocre. In 37 innings, Gill has managed 1040 Test runs at an average of 30.58 with just four half-centuries and a couple of hundreds. 

In the last three years from 2021, Gill is yet to cross the average of 30 in this format, collecting just 914 runs in 33 Test innings at an average of just 27.70 with just four fifties and two centuries during this period. When it comes to his performance in ‘home and away’ Tests, Gill has notched up 417 runs in 14 innings at home with an average of 32.08, while outside India, Gill has cracked 623 runs in 23 innings at an average of 29.67. 

With India announcing their squad for the first two Tests in the five-match Test series at home against England, Gill will have the most vital four innings awaiting him. India haven’t looked at Cheteshwar Pujara for a long time, even when they had Yashasvi Jaiswal at the opening spot, Gill was demoted to number three. But it’s a now-or-never situation for him. 

Because Gill loves to play the flick shots too often, he usually comes across the stumps, and becomes a regular candidate for bowled and LBW dismissals. He also struggles a lot against the outswingers and James Anderson will be asking him questions during the series. It’s time to cement his spot with huge scores under his belt. 

India A vs New Zealand A_ Rajat Patidar scored 319 runs at an average of 106.33 from three Tests against New Zealand A _ Walking Wicket (Photo_ ©BCCI_KSCA)
Patidar has scored back-to-back tons against England Lions in FC (Photo: ©BCCI/KSCA)

The vital number three position at stake for India in Tests

One of the essential spots in Test cricket for any side along with the openers, is the number three position. Whenever the teams lose an early wicket, the whole responsibility comes on the shoulder of the first down batter, who then has to go through the new ball spell in quite a tough condition. 

It won’t be wrong in a way to describe the number three as an opener, who would have all the challenges of seam, pace, bounce and spin before them. Marnus Labuschagne has been doing this job for Australia for quite a decent number of years, while Joe Root has become a run machine for England at this position for the lion’s share of his career. Kane Williamson has negotiated all the early issues for New Zealand, while for India, Pujara was scoring big scores at that spot for a long time. 

The ability to have a solid defence in alien conditions and eagerness to take some body blows against the short balls, along with an attacking mindset makes a perfect number three. A successful number three has the opportunity to set the pattern of play rather than following an established trend. One wicket can be a fluke, whereas three down is a collapse. 

A perfect number three will always have a mindset of coming into the middle on the second ball of an innings, with the scorecard flashing 0/1. There are challenges in every step, but it’s the best place to bat and be the standout performer for the team on most occasions. 

India may look at Pujara again; Easwaran, and Patidar among the probable backups

If Gill doesn’t do well in the first two Test matches, then India may look to give others a chance in the position. With Cheteshwar Pujara looking in good touch in the ongoing Ranji Trophy 2023-24, with 444 runs in five innings so far, and also has the experience of the number three position, India may look back at the veteran. 

Rajat Patidar too has been scoring truck-loaded runs in the domestic tournament, with 4000 runs in 93 first-class innings at an average of 45.97, with 22 fifties and 12 centuries. Even in the recent India A series against England A, Patidar has scored two centuries in back-to-back games. 

Abhimanyu Easwaran too has been scoring runs regularly whenever he is getting chances. In 155 first-class innings, the right-handed batter has managed 6589 runs at an average of 46.40 with 26 fifties and 22 centuries. He has been in the India squad for a long time, and it could be a chance to give him game time in the middle. 

Also, Priyank Panchal and Ruturaj Gaikwad are other options India could look at for the number three position. But whatever happens, at the end of the England series, India should have a powerful and solid number three in Test cricket. 

India will start the first of the five-match Test series against England on January 25 at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. 


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