2023 ODI World Cup: Shubman Gill - living in the shadows, yet how!
On Sunday, Gill, who could well be the youngest of the 22 men when they stand side by side for the anthems, will look to create his own poem.
AHMEDABAD: Rohit Sharma has been belligerent. Virat Kohli has done Kohli things. Shreyas Iyer has accepted his responsibilities of finding boundaries through the middle-overs. KL Rahul has played the situation, finding the gears needed in his role as finisher. In short, they have been India's four horsemen of the batting apocalypse.
The person hoping to join this conversation is Shubman Gill. He isn't as rapid as Rohit or as accomplished as Kohli or as six-hitting as Iyer or a finisher like Rahul. What he has, though, is combining bits from the four.
Coming into the World Cup, Gill displayed that. Before he fell foul of dengue, a medical condition which can become life-threatening without proper care, the opener was best placed to take down a longstanding Sachin Tendulkar record — most ODI runs in a calendar year. The 1,894 runs he had amassed in 1998 had stood but Gill had 1,230 a week before the tournament's first game against Australia.
His year was filled with one match-winning performance after another.
After beginning his year with a crisp 70 against Sri Lanka, he made three 100s (including one double) in four games. There was a minor blip by his standards before returning to form at the Asia Cup. He rounded out the tune-up fixtures with a fine 100 against Australia.
During his bull-run, he had shown a few things, chief among them being why he is considered the heir apparent to Virat Kohli. If anything, Gill wasn't the future. He was the present. It was time for the prince to assume the lead role. What better stage than a home World Cup for the country's latest batting prodigy to come of age.
However, Gill has, to slightly tweak a phrase from the Batman, done his work while living in the shadows. It's easy to forget, but Gill's first ball back since recovering from dengue was an off-drive to the boundary off Shaheen Shah Afridi. While Rohit Sharma's tone-setting 86 off 63 was front and centre, Gill set the pace with four boundaries off his first nine deliveries. What was that bit about the virus again?
Do you remember his run-a-ball 92 against Sri Lanka? Probably not because the Indian bowlers produced a generational display of hostile pace-bowling to bowl out the opposition for 55. His 32-ball 51 against Netherlands was a boundary-hitting powerplay masterclass. It felt illegal to be paid to be at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium to watch him bat. To be honest, it's always like that whenever he bats for it's a masterclass in aesthetics. Like watching Vincent van Gogh go about creating The Starry Night.
On Sunday, Gill, who could well be the youngest of the 22 men when they stand side by side for the anthems, will look to create his own poem. He has had a line here, a verse there and a stanza somewhere in between.
The time is ripe for an epic.