‘End all speculations. Shubman Gill will definitely play vs Pakistan in Motera’ | Cricket - Hindustan Times

‘End all speculations. Shubman Gill will definitely play vs Pakistan in Ahmedabad’: Ex-India chief selector

Oct 13, 2023 10:18 AM IST

Shubman Gill should be played against Pakistan if he is fit, feels former India chairman of selectors MSK Prasad.

Shubman Gill's speedy recovery has put him right in contention for a return to India's playing XI in the World Cup 2023 match against Pakistan on Saturday in Ahmedabad. Till Tuesday, there was very little chance of Gill being available for the Pakistan match. He was, after all, discharged from the hospital barely a night before. But things took a positive turn by Wednesday night as Gill travelled straight to Ahmedabad from Chennai and on Thursday morning, headed for a practice session – his first in more than a week.

India's Shubman Gill(ANI)
India's Shubman Gill(ANI)

In footage aired by Star Sports, Gill looked in a jovial mood before heading to the nets at around 11:30 in the morning. He was accompanied by Team India physio Kamlesh and throwdown specialist Nuwan Seneviratne. Gill batted close to an hour in the Motera nets. He took throwdowns and faced local net bowlers as no other member of the Indian team was available. The best part was that he did not seem to be in any sort of discomfort. Towards the end of the session, the 24-year-old also took some catches to hone his fielding skills.

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With more than 24 hours to go for the Pakistan match, Gill will have his second round of full-fledged practice session with the rest of the Indian cricketers on Friday evening. If he fares well then there is no reason to believe he can't make his World Cup debut on Saturday. What this also means is that the Indian team management have buried all thoughts of drafting Ruturaj Gaikwad or Yashasvi Jaiswal as back-ups.

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"I think we can put an end to all kinds of speculations. Shubman Gill will definitely play this game (vs Pakistan). He's too good a player to miss out. He had just a fever. He has recovered. It was not threatening at all that we would even think about replacements. It's all rumours that are coming out (about the seriousness of the illness) in whatever form that you are hearing," former India chairman of selectors MSK Prasad, who is a Star Sports' Telugu cricket expert for this World Cup, told hindustantimes.com.

Prasad said Gill did not travel to Delhi for India's match against Afghanistan due to precautionary reasons. "What we heard was that as a matter of precaution, he couldn't play the second game otherwise he was fine. He stayed back for one more day in Chennai as a precaution. He recovered well and was discharged. See if someone is playing for 1 bour that means he has recovered. This is an all-important game against Pakistan. If he is fit, which I'm sure he is, then he should be in India's playing XI," he added.

Gill's staggering record at the Narendra Modi Stadium

If Gill plays against Pakistan, it would be a major boost for India for two reasons. Although Ishan Kishan can do a decent job at the top of the order, he doesn't provide the solidity of Gill. Moreover, the kind of record Gill has at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad is second to now. Gill is yet to play an ODI at the venue but in the four matches - three Tests and a T20I - that he has played here, he averages 93 and also has two centuries.

To top it all, Motera is his homeground in IPL as he represented the Gujarat Titans. He scored heaps of runs at this venue in the last edition of the tournament.

"This is the ground where he has played his franchise cricket. He understands every blade of grass about this ground. He knows how to get runs here. With the kind of record he has at this ground and the kind of record he had in the last 1 year, he should definitely play. In the first couple of games, especially against Afghanistan, we didn't require him. The others did the job but now if we look at Pakistan, they are also coming on the back of two wins. It would be very good if we go in with the best possible XI. Ishan of course has done reasonably well in the second game but when a person like Shubman Gill is there, you have one more match-winner to the XI. This is not a T20 game where he needs to go slam-bang. He can take his time, get set, occupy the crease and then see how it goes. Ideally, I would want him in the XI," the former India keeper-batter said.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain, however, wanted the Indian team management to be cautious keeping the duration of this tournament in mind. "I think you have to look at the bigger picture. Look after the lad. It's a big game so if he says he is okay, then he's got to play but India will have to be careful about the heat and humidity factors," he said.

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    Aritra Mukherjee, who happens to be a journalist, is in an eternal relationship with food and sleep. He can, however, sacrifice both or at least the latter for his love-affair with cricket. 'He said,' 'he added,' 'he signed off' are some of his favourite phrases. When not juggling between food, sleep and cricket, he wastes time by surfing OTT platforms.

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