Hyderabad, Jan 23 (PTI) When BCCI selected Shubman Gill for the Cricketer of the Year award, it was a just reflection of the wonder 2023 he had in white ball formats.
Last year, Gill became the fastest batter to the 2000-run mark in ODIs, while making 1584 runs from 29 matches at an average of 63.36 including five hundreds.
Gill, who made his T20 debut in January last year, had a fair run in that format too while playing 14 matches for 335 runs with a hundred, also becoming one of those rare batters to score a century in all three versions of the sport.
But all this glitter masked a rather underwhelming season Gill had in Test cricket. Gill made just 304 runs from seven Tests at an average of 27.63 with a 128 against Australia being the lone saving grace.
By no means, Gill has not been bundled into any last chance saloon but he will be mindful of the increasing competition from players such as Rajat Patidar, who made a rollicking hundred against England Lions in Ahmedabad recently.
But the elegant right-hander needs a good run in the red ball cricket and the five-match Test series against England, beginning here on Thursday, offers him a brilliant chance to turn his fortunes around.
Since the series against the West Indies, Gill, who till then was opening, has been batting at No. 3 as left-handed Yashasvi Jaiswal has formed a good alliance with captain Rohit Sharma.
Head coach Rahul Dravid also recently reasserted his faith in Rohit and Jaiswal, marking them as the preferred opening choices for this Indian team for the foreseeable future.
That has left Gill with limited wriggle room as it will not be easy for him to return to the opening slot unless one of Rohit or Jaiswal is having a horror run or an unfortunate injury.
However, Dravid was not ready to pile pressure on Gill.
“Gill is a fine player. Starting out the journey as a cricketer sometimes…we forget that it takes a little bit of time at times. Some guys have success instantly, actually he is one of those guys who has done really well in some of his early days, especially in Australia,” Dravid told media persons here on Tuesday.
The former Indian captain, who knows a thing or two about playing on tough wickets, said Gill, like any other young player, will take some time to adapt.
“To be fair to him a lot of young guys coming through are playing on some challenging wickets, whether it’s been in India or England or West Indies. It has been a pretty challenging wickets for the last two or three years,” he noted.
Dravid said Gill has been putting some hard yards at nets and hoped that the 24-year-old would soon drive back to the right road.
“He is doing all the right things. He is working really hard. He is putting in the time, putting in the effort (at nets).
"In the last season he has got a couple of nice hundreds for us, one in Bangladesh and one in Ahmedabad against Australia. I think he is on the right track,” elaborated Dravid.
Gill’s time starts now then to vindicate the faith Dravid has placed on him so emphatically. PTI UNG BS BS