"Shubhman Gill, now with the loss of Robin and Gautam Gambhir at Kolkata, he's now a leader, the focal point of that batting unit, he is the best batsman of the team."
This is what former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris had opined about Kolkata batsman Shubman Gill while speaking on Star Sports a week ago.
Styris was spot on with his opinion as Gill had not only spent two seasons with Kolkata honing his batting skills under the best in the business, but had also proven his mettle by scoring 499 runs -- at an excellent average of 33.3 -- while batting at different positions. And now, with the departure of senior top-order batsmen like Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn, the youngster was all set to become hiss team's first-choice opener in the Indian T20 League 2020.
Even though his first outing of this season didn't go as expected, he has bounced back really well with back-to-back match-winning performances and has shown why he draws such high praise from everyone.
Performance so far
7(11) vs Mumbai | Kolkata lost by 49 runs
70*(62) vs Hyderabad | Kolkata won by 7 wickets
47(34) vs Rajasthan | Kolkata won by 37 runs
Major Skill on display: Dynamic Batting ability
Majority of the top-order T20 batsmen fall into two categories -- Anchors and Hitters. While teams expect their anchors to bat through the innings while scoring at a steady rate, the job of hitters is to get their team off to flying starts. However, batsmen who have both of these abilities are pretty rare and the 21-year-old Shubman Gill belongs to this rare breed of players.
After his measly returns of just seven runs in the opening encounter against Mumbai, Gill played two fabulous knocks of 70* and 47. But his approach in each of the two innings was pretty different. While he anchored his side's chase of 143 runs with his unbeaten knock of 70 against Hyderabad, Gill took up the role of the aggressor in the next match against Rajasthan when he found his opening partner -- Sunil Narine -- struggling with his timing.
These two contrasting knocks showed that Gill can play both roles as a batsman and can change gears pretty swiftly as well. He understands situations pretty well and knows how to adapt to them. The best part about his batting is how he cuts out the high-risk shots, and still manages to score at a swift rate. Gill likes to play his attacking shots mostly in the 'V' in front of the wicket. Couple that with his ability of finding the gaps with his impeccable timing and his habit of rotating the strike on a regular basis, and you will know why bowlers find him such a big menace to handle.
- A Beast at the top of the order
In the nine instances Gill has opened for KKR since 2018, he has gone past the 30-run mark on five occasions and has even converted four of those instances into scores of fifty or more. Barring one match (vs Delhi in 2019), KKR have gone on to win all of the other four games. While his overall Indian T20 League batting average reads only 33.3, the same metric while opening the innings shoots up to 51.43.
- A nightmare for the spinners
Gill has scored 246 out of his 623 career runs in the Indian T20 League against spinners and these runs have come at a mindblowing average of 123. His strike-rate of 138.9 against them is also quite impactful and that sums up how much of a calming influence his presence can be for Kolkata when oppositions attack with spinners in the middle-overs. Gill hardly finds any trouble in taking them on and the numbers clearly reveal that.
- Least Dot-ball percentage
Table: Dot-ball percentage of Kolkata's current set of top six batsmen in Indian T20 League
Due to his excellent ability of rotating the strike and finding the gaps on a regular basis, Gill doesn't allow the pressure to mount on him and on his batting partners at the same time. That's why he holds the record for the least dot ball percentage in the tournament among all of Kolkata's current set of top six batsmen.
Wall of Praise
Many former cricketers have gone on to express their admiration for Shubman Gill's batting abilities. The best among them are mentioned below:
"He has such class that if you ask any Indian cricketer who is the next star, everyone will say Shubman Gill." - Sunil Gavaskar on Sports. Tak
"I feel we will hear a lot about him in the coming days and the Indian team is going to get a very good player." - Madan Lal on Sports Tak.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter.com / Indian T20 League