Shubman Gill vs Ishan Kishan, the better-suited opener to India's plans
Shubman Gill and Ishan Kishan (Source: One Cricket)
After a humiliating debacle in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021, India had a shot at redemption in the tournament's 2022 edition. But to the disappointment of the fans of the 'Men in Blue', they failed to go past the hurdle of semi-final.
In the semi-final of ICC T20 World Cup 2022, one of the major drawbacks of team India that even a lay man noticed was there failure to score at a good rate in the powerplay. Since, then there have been talks of India trying to revamp their setup in the shortest format of the game, especially the opening slot.
The team management has sent a pretty young team to the immediate next series in New Zealand. The team got Ishan Kishan and Rishabh Pant to open in the second match of the series. This was a test for the two youngsters to prove themselves to be capable of India's new thinking of displaying intent from the very beginning of a T20 match.
But what was the result? India was able to score 42 runs in the first 6 overs for the loss of Pant's wicket, a run-rate of just 7.00. Pant's strike rate was just 46.15 and for Ishan Kishan was 116.12
So, much like many Indian fans, I am compelled to ask the question, was this intent enough from the two batters?
You can understand the reasoning behind backing Pant, as he has already been a match winner for you in other formats. But Ishan Kishan? Yes , the question mark raised behind this name might angry a lot of fans. But has the youngster stood up to the hype that has been created around him. Or is it time for India to look at a much more technically competent and temperament sorted batter in Shubman Gill.
Let us get into a deeper study of the two young batters.
Ishan Kishan (Source: Twitter)
If we look at Ishan Kishan's overall IPL numbers, it looks like-
Innings: 70 Runs: 1870 Avg: 29.22 Strike Rate: 132.34
Now, for Gill the numbers are-
Innings: 71 Runs: 1900 Avg: 32.20 Strike Rate: 125.25
The numbers of the two batters are quite similar. But since we are looking for a player with intent at the opening slot, I give this one to Ishan Kishan. So, Ishan leads 1-0.
But now let us look at more recent records of the two players. It becomes even more important to focus on recent records as in the last mega auction, Ishan Kishan broke the bank getting INR 15.25 Cr. , while Gill was drafted for a price of INR 8 Cr.
IPL 2022 record
Shubman Gill (Source: Twitter)
Innings: 14 Runs: 418 Avg: 32.15 Strike Rate: 120.11
Innings: 16 Runs: 483 Avg: 34.50 Strike Rate: 132.33
In this case, we see that Gill's strike rate has been on the way up. He is improving his attacking game and showing the proper intent at the beginning of the innings. On the other hand, Ishan Kishan's strike rate took a dip from his career numbers. The difference when considered between the two players is also quite big. So, Gill wins the round and squares up 1-1.
Shubman Gill for Punjab state team (Source: Twitter)
If we look at the performance of the two players in the recently concluded edition of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, we will get an even better idea of why Gill is probably the option India should back.
Shubman Gill's strike rate in SMAT 2022 has been 229.0, while the same for Ishan Kishan was 159.38. So this round also goes to Gill making him the winner by 2-1 margin.
So, if India is looking to persist with Pant as an opener, then Gill is the best option to be paired with him. First of all it brings the dynamism of left and right hand combination. Second, Gill is temperamentally much stronger and technically more sound than Ishan Kishan, he can easily adapt his game as per the demand of the situation. Even if his job will be to bat with an aggressive approach if a wickets fall around him, Gill can bring his game down a notch and stabilise the innings.
I hope India tries to see a bit ahead of Kishan and gives Shubman Gill the much deserved chance in the third and final match of the series against New Zealand and the batter grabs the opportunity with both hands.