‘That is Kohli’s position': How ‘uncomfortable’ Gill took over Virat's key role | Cricket - Hindustan Times

'That is Virat Kohli's position...': Ashwin explains how 'uncomfortable' Shubman Gill took over India great's key role

Mar 14, 2024 07:41 AM IST

Shubman Gill produced a strong outing in the five-Test series against England, as India clinched a 4-1 win

Team India's star youngster Shubman Gill enjoyed an impressive outing in the recently concluded Test series against England. When the series began in January, there were considerable doubts over his place in the Test XI; Gill, having replaced Cheteshwar Pujara at no.3 in the lineup, endured a string of low scores and had a poor start to the England series, too.

India's Ravichandran Ashwin (C) celebrates with Shubman Gill (R) during the Test series against England(AFP)
India's Ravichandran Ashwin (C) celebrates with Shubman Gill (R) during the Test series against England(AFP)

With scores of 23 and 0 in the first Test, the criticism only turned stronger against Gill, but the youngster kept the team management's faith, eventually delivering on it with a crucial century in the second Test. Gill went on to notch another ton and end the series as India's second-highest run-getter in five Tests (452).

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However, in addition to his batting credentials, Gill has received recognition for another crucial aspect of his play from none other than Ravichandran Ashwin, who took the field with him across all five matches against England. The veteran off-spinner pointed out how Gill, like his batting, faced initial struggles in the series as he fielded at the short mid-wicket position; the spot Virat Kohli usually takes over against spinners.

"Short mid-wicket is Virat Kohli's position. It is very difficult to replace him. Virat and (Suresh) Raina. (Shubman) Gill started off there in the first test, and he looked very uncomfortable. By the final Test, he got it (like Vijay says to Sivakarthikeyan). He also took a catch of (Ben) Duckett on covers. It shows that he wants to improve his game on a day-to-day basis, and he's working on it," Ashwin said in a YouTube video.

Speaking on his comeback in the series after a slow start, Ashwin insisted that Gill is bound to be the “next superstar” in Indian cricket, and his ability to make a strong return is a crucial chapter of that “journey.”

“I give extra praise to Shubman Gill because he has seen the ups and downs of the game. People discussed his position in the XI. He had a few technical issues of his own. He came past all that to become what he is today, like how gold is molten from flames and water. And for somebody who is bound to be the next superstar of Indian cricket, as people project, this is a very important journey for him. He has handled the pressure, and massive applause is for him,” said Ashwin.

Gill to lead GT

After a successful series with the bat against England, Shubman Gill, like his Indian teammates, will transition to the Indian Premier League, where he dons the new role – that of a captain. Gill was named the skipper of the Gujarat Titans for the 2024 edition of the league following the departure of Hardik Pandya to Mumbai Indians (MI).

The Titans will begin their campaign in the league against the MI on March 24 in Ahmedabad.

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