Shubman Gill speaks softly and to the point — in sharp contrast to his aggressive, never-say-die attitude on the field.
The 23-year-old had shown that he wasn’t afraid of taking up challenges when he hit Nathan Lyon for six or took Cameron Green to the cleaners on Saturday. “On wickets like these, it is a little difficult to score runs fluently. But it’s always important to keep trying to be positive and aim for those singles,” Gill told the media after the day’s play.
In his 353-minute stay at the crease, Gill put up three 50-plus stands — with captain Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli — to keep India in the game.
Constant practice had helped him play with a straight bat through the mid-wicket, he said. “It’s one of those shots you automatically develop once you play the bouncers. I used to practise playing bouncers with a plastic ball on a cement surface... (the shot) kind of developed as I practised it over and over again and it was more instinctive than anything else,” he said.
After Rohit’s dismissal, Gill forged a 247-ball 113-run stand with Pujara. The two spoke every now and then on how to hang in there. “There wasn’t much help for the bowlers and they got some big runs. So, it was important for us to not lose many wickets and just bat the whole day…”
With the temperatures soaring to 32°, it’s not easy to bat on. “You need to tell yourself that things are going well. There were times when the boundaries had dried up, I had to control myself and understand that it’s just one of those phases,” he said.
“And then, if you stick to your process, you end up hitting a couple of boundaries in an over. It’s a process to not lose your patience in challenging situations. At times, you do lose patience but it all depends on the situation and where your team is placed at,” he said.
Reassessment pays off
After a promising start to his Test career against Australia at the fag end of 2020, Gill failed to convert starts and was in and out of the side. When things looked difficult, he had to step back and do some assessment.
“In between, there came a phase when I scored just 40s and 50s. Despite being settled, I was becoming over-defensive and was putting a lot of pressure on myself in a bid to convert the start. That was not my game. So, I had to tell myself that when I get settled, I should not get out playing on the defensive because it was not my original game. I decided not to put additional pressure…”
That move paid off as he scored 110 in the second essay of the first Test against Bangladesh in Chattogram in December last year. That boosted his confidence and overcoming the disappointment in Indore in the previous fixture, Gill stepped up and scored a ton when it mattered most. After all, by his own admission, Test cricket “is all about spending as much time as possible in the middle”.