Shubman Gill leads India’s T20 evolution: Young brigade outperforming mastery of stalwarts | Cricket News
Virat Kohli made a curt statement after his unbeaten 101 off 61 at the broadcaster’s mid-innings interview: “A lot of people think my T20 cricket is declining. But I don’t think so. Strike rates depend on the situations you bat in. I find ways to hit gaps and boundaries.” There’s little debating that Kohli’s was an innings of mastery over his skills. In a couple of hours, though, Gill trumped him with an unbeaten 104 off 52 balls. It’s ironic that Kohli himself declared Gill to lead the next generation in one of his social media posts last week.
Over the last two months and a couple of IPLs seasons, the younger breed of Indian batters has consistently proved they are a tad ahead of their predecessors in T20 cricket. Be it Rinku Singh, Yasashvi Jaiswal, Jitesh Sharma, Shubman Gill or Rahul Tewatia—they have all embraced T20 cricket’s uninhibited brand.
India’s T20 cricket in world events have been stale. The runs have come from the bats of Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. But they have lacked impact consistently. It’s not about lack of intent. It’s about keeping up with the evolution of the game.
Kohli hitting just one six having batted the entire 20 overs is a case in point. RCB enduring another middle-order collapse could be a reason but six-hitting skills in contemporary cricket barely depend on situations. There’s this obduracy to bat deep and play the anchor role which worked just fine half a decade ago. The T20 world has moved on from that for some time now, though.
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This up and coming bunch of batters, unlike Kohli’s generation, have been entirely bred on a T20 diet. Kohli is the last of the generation that was raised in an environment where preserving your wicket was the bedrock of batting.
The Gills and Jaiswals, in their formative years, have spent equal amounts of time practicing range-hitting and strengthening techniques. The batting drills, fitness routines, strength training and analytical study are at a level that would be unfathomable 15 years ago. When Rahul Dravid went for his first U-19 World Cup as coach in 2016 claimed his mind was boggled by the power and ability to hit sixes of the youngsters. What we are seeing now is that the generational shift is getting a face.
Kohli is right that his T20 cricket isn’t on the way. Browse through his records, there may be a few dents in the recent years, but they have never dipped. Along with Kohli, the likes of Rohit, Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan had all hit their peak in T20 cricket by 2016. The class-is-permanent adage will always hold true and they will turn up time and again to prove it. They are too good for lesser-than-international attacks. It’s just that their best is falling short for their teams frequently.
Indian T20 team has borne the influence of IPL for some time now. Dinesh Karthik rode the wave last year and mid-way through the T20 World Cup the team management felt he wasn’t up to the mark. Looking ahead to the T20 World Cup next year, the caretakers of Indian cricket have to take a call if they want to go with the steady or the fast-and-furious. They seemed to have taken the call with Hardik Pandya leading a team minus the stalwarts.
For the moment in T20 cricket, the younger boys are telling the stalwarts that they can do one better. For once, the stalwarts are playing catch up!