PUNE, January 4: Shubman Gill will be aiming to up the ante in the Powerplay overs to keep his nearest competitor Ruturaj Gaikwad at bay as a buoyant India team aims to come all guns blazing against Sri Lanka in its bid to clinch the series in the second T20I here on Thursday.
India won a last-ball thriller by two runs in the opener at Wankhede while defending a below-par score and skipper Hardik Pandya spoke about the benefits of overcoming difficult situations as the team moves forward.
While T20Is aren’t of highest priority in an ODI World Cup year, Gill will not like to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors while aiming to cement his place in the T20I side after making a reputation for himself in the longer versions.
Gill’s career strike-rate after playing 96 T20 games (mostly IPL and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy) is a modest 128.74 and, even on debut, he looked like a shaky starter.
While Gill has opened a lot for KKR and even was an integral part at the top of the order for Gujarat Titans, his game is primarily based on consolidation and then going for the kill.
However, this is the identical approach that had cost KL Rahul a place in the T20 squad. While skipper Pandya, like every other Indian captain in the recent past has promised a fearless approach at the top, he would need each of his player to walk the talk.
The Indian T20 cupboard is brimming with talent with players likes Ruturaj and Rahul Tripathi cooling their heels in the dugout.
It is expected that both Gill and Ishan Kishan will get all three games in the series and an impactful Powerplay will also give the batters coming down the order more confidence to play fearless cricket.
The batting unit will like to score more runs in the second game and a lot will depend on the manner in which new vice-captain Suryakumar Yadav does what is known as “front-loading” (heavy-duty hitting in the first 10 overs) in cricketing jargon.
Surya was dismissed cheaply, one of his rare T20 failures after a golden 2022 but it was more to do with a bit of less pace off the surface unlike Australia and New Zealand where the ‘blind scoop’ over ’45’, would normally go for a six.
But the smart operator that he is, Surya will find a way to manoeuvre against a Sri Lankan bowling attack which is more dependant on spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Mahesh Theekshana who accounted for two wickets, giving away only 51 runs in their cumulative eight overs.
Deepak Hooda and Axar Patel’s batting effort was lauded by one and all and their utility is there to be seen.
Shivam Mavi’s dream debut is certainly a big relief for skipper Pandya, who could be lauded for taking the new ball and bowling an incisive first spell alongside the newcomer.
Mavi (4/22), with his ability to swing the ball, and Umran Malik’s (2/27) raw pace is welcome addition to this T20 playing XI and seem to be long-term investments going into the 2024 T20 World Cup.
However the worry will be leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who must have lost a bit of confidence after being ignored during the T20 World Cup.
In fact, Chahal went for 26 in his first two overs and the skipper couldn’t let him complete his spell.
Deepak Hooda big option for India’s 2023 ODI World Cup team: Irfan Pathan
It can safely be said that since he made his debut for India in T20Is against Sri Lanka in Lucknow on February 24 last year, Deepak Hooda hasn’t been given a fair run or used judiciously by India. However, if they intend to build a solid team for the next two white ball World Cups (50-over WC this year, and then the T20 WC in 2024), India need to give this big-hitting allrounder a longer run, especially in the role of a finisher.
In 16 T20Is, the 27-year-old has scored 343 firstname.lastname@example.org, including a 57-ball 104 against Ireland at Malahide on June 28, 2022, while batting at No 3. However, that innings failed to see Hooda seal a permanent spot in India’s T20I team. He endured an ordinary time in the Asia Cup, but it didn’t help that he batted at No 7 and wasn’t used as a bowler. In the subsequent T20 World Cup in Australia, all he got was one game against South Africa on a tough pitch at Perth, where he was out for a duck. (PTI)