T20 World Cup 2024 - Is Shubman Gill Ready For The Heartbreak?

image-lrj9pjs8Shubman Gill is one of the brightest young talent in Indian cricket (X.com)

Life is known to be unpredictable, and there are no guarantees, just like how it is in the game of cricket. A cricketer, one of the biggest stakeholders of the beautiful sport called cricket, often grabs the major spotlight but ends up being governed by some uncontrollable factors just like how a normal human is controlled by various external factors. 

In India, cricket is huge and in this post-modern world ruled by external factors, perception play a massive role. The story of Shubman Gill, the latest GenZ superstar is quite an intriguing one in this context, and with his T20 World Cup selection chances in doldrums, it is imperative to understand how his story has unfolded.

The Rise Of A Prince - An All-Format Genius

Shubman Gill's rise in Indian cricketing circles was quite swift given that his talent and composure was always rated very highly right from his junior days. The 91 in a historic run-chase at Gabba kick-started his career, and soon he became a regular member for India across formats.

Such was his consistency, temperament and aura that he replaced one of India's finest ODI openers, Shikhar Dhawan, a year before the 2023 World Cup, and there was hardly anyone who questioned such a bold move. 

In Test cricket too, despite a bit of inconsistency, it is largely believed that it is just a matter of time before he finds his mojo in whites.

Now, coming to the format which is the talk of town, the T20s. The young batter has India's highest T20I score in the format - a knock that was considered as Gill's coming of age moment in T20 cricket. He followed it up with a breathtaking IPL season where he scored 890 runs in 17 innings at a strike rate of 157.80 with three centuries in it. 

That IPL season reaffirmed Gill's stature as a T20 batter and 'Prince' of Indian cricket and it seemed that he will be an untouchable force across formats for years to come.

T20 World Cup 2024 - Shubman Gill Still An Untouchable Force?

The T20 World Cup 2024 is set to be played in June, and India are done with their final T20I series before the marquee event. It is expected that the captain and team management have a clear idea of most of the 15 players that will fly for the World Cup, but there are always one or two spots that are debatable. 

Unfortunately for Shubman Gill, after the highs of 2023, he is still one of those players who is fighting for those last disputed spots. 

So, how did the man who was once considered as undroppable and one of the most important assets of the team, suddenly finds himself on the verge of missing the World Cup flight all together. 

Here are some of the factors that have brought about this change -

The Return of Rohit-Kohli In T20Is

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli recently made their comeback in T20Is for the Afghanistan series after not playing T20Is for more than a year post the heartbreak of 2022 T20 World Cup. In their absence, Gill was given the opportunity at the top of the order and he did decently as well.

However, with return of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, the one opening spot and the number 3 spot is already booked. It has increased the competition for that other opener spot, and with plenty of other contenders who have done well at that position, Gill finds himself in a tricky state now.

Yashasvi Jaiswal vs Shubman Gill - The brand of cricket debate

The fearlessness and aggressive strokeplay that Yashasvi Jaiswal has displayed in his T20 batting has also played a major factor in Shubman Gill going down the pecking order in T20Is. Yashasvi is a left-handed batter and in his brief international and IPL career, he has shown the ability to get going from the ball one, which suits perfectly to India's motto of playing aggressive brand of cricket.

He complements Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli perfectly due to this aggressive nature which is not the case with Shubman Gill, who generally takes time before he takes off.

If we look at sheer stats too, Yashasvi Jaiswal is ahead in the race with an average of 33.46 and a strike rate of over 160 compared to Gill's average of 25 and strike rate of 147.57.  

Rahul Dravid, India's head coach made it clear before the start of the Afghanistan series that they will be going with Yashasvi at the top, and Jaiswal came up with a final nail in the coffin with his fireworks in the 2nd T20I.

Rinku Singh, Shivam Dube & Team Composition Necessities

The fact that only 15 can be selected and the squad needs to have a back-up for every possible role, makes things more tricky for Shubman Gill. Rinku Singh has sealed the finisher role with his consistent performances under pressure while Shivam Dube's performances in the Afghanistan series has made him a strong contender too.

Dube brings all-round skills to the table that can be crucial and he is a clean hitter of the ball which is critical in modern day T20 cricket. Even if Dube does not find a place in the playing XI initially, he is a like-to-like replacement for Hardik Pandya, and can be an x-factor in the T20 World Cup.

Along with these two, India also will have to fit in at least two wicketkeepers in their squad. Jitesh Sharma seems to have sealed one spot. Ishan Kishan is on a mental break currently, but if he is available he can slot into that second wicketkeeper spot along with being a backup opener which puts Gill's position in the squad in jeopardy. 

Sanju Samson too is in reckoning, as he can also play the dual role of opener and wicketkeeper, if needed. 

So, Shubman Gill seems to be on the wrong side of the spectrum at the moment, and it looks like he would be the one who will face the axe, a prospect quite unthinkable just few months back.

However, it is these roller-coaster moments that make a life of a cricketer engrossing, and the first major dose of 'rejection' that is fast approaching Gill, might just set him free to look beyond horizons, and carve a brighter path in future.

India's Probable Squad For T20 World Cup 2024

Yashasvi Jaiswal, Rohit Sharma (C), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Rinku Singh, Jitesh Sharma (WK), Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravi Bishnoi, Arshdeep Singh Mohammed Siraj, Shivam Dube, Ishan Kishan / Sanju Samson (WK).