‘If I’m an Indian selector, I’m looking very closely at him’: Allan Border, Sunil Gavaskar pick between Shubman Gill, and Prithvi Shaw
As the Indian team management look to firm up their opening combination for the Adelaide Test, Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, two greats after whom the trophy for the series is named, both picked Shubman Gill over Prithvi Shaw to partner Mayank Agarwal in the pink-ball Test starting in Adelaide on Thursday.
“If I am an Indian selector, I am looking very closely at Gill,” former Australia skipper Border said during a virtual media interaction on Monday. Gavaskar was more emphatic. “Gill should open the batting with Mayank.”
Border was critical of incumbent opener Shaw’s expansive stroke-play. “I know you guys are big on Shaw. But it seems to me he plays a shot a ball,” he told Gavaskar. “Against the new ball… it looks good on flat tracks but in Australia you have got to be a little more watchful with your shot selection. He seems to be a bit loose outside the off-stump.”
Shaw’s technique was exposed in the tour games. His returns from four outings read, 0, 19, 40 and 3. He once fell to a set-up dismissal to an in-coming ball, on one instance due to poor footwork, and twice fell to wasteful drives.
Shaw was Gill’s captain in India’s victorious 2018 U-19 World Cup campaign in New Zealand. There was talk about Shaw’s batting methods during India’s last Test series in New Zealand too, but Indian captain Virat Kohli had suggested that his attacking play suited the team’s strategy for overseas conditions.
Gavaskar too feels Shaw needs to change his approach. “He has to spend a little more time assessing his batting. As an opening batsman, you have to give yourself a little more time to see what the pitch and bowlers are doing,” he said. “The way he is batting at the moment is not going to make him a very consistent player. Yes, he will score runs once in a while. But he has got to tighten his defence. I agree with AB, he is playing far too many shots at the start of his innings.”
Border saw Gill while doing commentary for the warm matches, telecast on Sony Six, and was impressed. “I really think he has got something about him… his technique. I know he is young so he can play some rash shots here and there. But gee, he looks like a seriously good player.” Gill used his organised set-up and compact backfoot play to score 43 and 65 in the second pink-ball practice tie, after his 0 and 29 opening with Shaw in the first warm-up game.
Interestingly, Gill had posted a cryptic tweet on Sunday: “T-4 days... get your popcorn ready!”