The sound of Shubman Gill’s blade silenced the Chinnaswamy Stadium. The silence, sadly, turned into frustration as Royal Challengers Bengaluru fans took to social media to abuse the 23-year-old for playing the way he did to knock their team out of the tournament.
The Gujarat Titans opener reached his second hundred of the IPL by scoring the winning runs of a match that RCB had to win to stay in the tournament. Gill batted with a strike rate of 200 by executing strokes that made one wonder how someone could play a T20 knock with such elegance and ease! Only twice did the bowlers, in his 52 ball stay, manage the outside edge of his blade, but even those indiscreet strokes yielded boundaries. It was his day. He ran 34 runs, while the remaining 68 came from sweetly timed fours and sixes.
Wayne Parnell had a deep midwicket to Gill for the short arm jab. The left-armer pitched the new ball short which Gill received around his hip. He could have cleared it over the waiting deep fielder, instead, he rolled his wrists to complete the stroke. So sensible. The ball beat the short fine leg fielder to cross the boundary. The tall batter had scored his first of many boundaries. The second came in the very over. This time, he lofted a pitched up delivery over the mid-off fielder in style. This one was sort of an announcement from him that he was there to chase 198 runs set by Royal Challengers Bengaluru.
Gill punished them all. Michael Bracewell changed lines, so the sixes went in different directions; Vyshak Vijay Kumar varied pace to get punished; Mohammed Siraj bowled to the batter’s strength and invited a short-arm jab; Harshal Patel missed his spots, and Parnell did not know where to bowl. The expressions of Virat Kohli, Sanjay Bangar, and Mike Hesson said it all.
Gill’s initial movement, the position he takes and then the stroke execution makes him special. He operates with a strong base, rarely loses his position. His solid bottom hand plus a superb bat swing assists him in clearing the ropes. There’s no shuffling, scoops or advancing, there’s neatness in the approach. He finds the gaps by playing those smooth ground strokes, and if a shot is aerial, he makes sure it is not risky. He truly values his wicket.
Gill is in great form in this year’s IPL. He is just 50 runs away from earning the Orange Cup, RCB skipper Faf Du Plessis sits at top with 730 runs. In 14 matches, Gill has smacked 680 runs with an average of 56.15. “I am in good form. It’s about getting a start and then converting it into a big one”, he did what he said.
This is what his ‘idol’ Virat Kohli had to say when Gill made his maiden IPL hundred: “There’s potential and then there’s Gill. Go on and lead the next generation. God bless you.” What this supremely talented Indian batsman needs is blessings. If you hurl abuses, remember his celebration: with his bat at the back and his helmet in the front; he will quietly bow down and smile. For the Prince doesn’t care. He is here to rule.