Ahmedabad: Shubman Gill doesn’t have a problem if he gets dismissed while playing his natural attacking game but what bothered him was getting out while playing a defensive shot which doesn’t come naturally to him.
Enjoying a golden run, Gill has now hit five hundreds across formats in just under two months and if the run is extended to three months, the count is six. It comprises two Test hundreds, three ODI tons including a double and a T20I hundred.
So what did he tell himself during the lean patch? ”There was phase in the middle when I was scoring 40s and 50s (52 and 44 against New Zealand in 2021) and getting out and when I played the one-off fifth Test in England, I scored some 20 odd (17) and I got out early in that innings,” Gill recalled that not-so-great phase in his 15-Test career.
”I got a feeling that as soon as I was getting set, I was getting over defensive and over cautious. I was thinking now that I have got set, I will have to bat as long as possible. I was putting myself under too much pressure and that is not my game.
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”Once I get set, then I get into a sort of rhythm and that’s my game. So I had to tell myself that if I get dismissed while playing my natural game, then it is fine. But problem was I was getting out playing the type of game that doesn’t come naturally to me,” he explained.
The root cause was trying to play defensive game even when he felt set.
”If I get out trying to play a shot after getting set, I can accept that dismissal, because that’s a shot and my execution wasn’t proper. But if I get out playing a game which isn’t my style then it became unacceptable to me,” he was very precise in his thought process.
The key was to not put pressure on himself.
”So I had to tell myself that I shouldn’t put too much pressure on myself when a situation like this arises next time, that I must convert now that I am set. I needed to keep it a bit free-flowing. It was more about mental make up and I focussed on that primarily.”
Pitch wasn’t easy for batting
Gill assessed that the Motera track wasn’t easy for run-scoring.
”I think on wickets like these, it is difficult to score runs fluently but it is also important that on these wickets you need to be positive and keep looking for those singles.” The six he hit off Nathan Lyon late on second evening was a standout one.
”He (Rohit) just came and he was little surprised. But I said that was my shot. If the off-spinner is bowling on a good wicket that we are playing now and the field is up and that was my shot and I was confident I will hit him for a boundary (six).”
Secret of regal on-drives with straight bat
Having played a lot of cricket on cement wickets back home in Mohali, Gill has developed an affinity for horizontal bat shots. He hit some on-drives where he could play with a straight bat rather than an angled one and he explained his process.
”I think one of those shots that automatically develops when you play bouncer. I am used to playing bouncers with a plastic ball on cement surfaces and the balls which were a little fuller. ”It developed as I practised it over and over (again) and it was more instinctive than anything else.”
”Not playing cross-batted shots”
Gill said on a track like this where there are periods of lull, one needs to train his mind not to play indiscreet shots.
”You have to remind yourself constantly that things are going well because there was a phase where we didn’t hit a boundary for the longest time and at that time, you had to tell yourself that its okay if you are not getting runs now but if you stick to your processes then there will be an over where you will get 2-3 boundaries.
”So process is not to lose patience, you can get out but also you might be able to get boundaries.” The only questioned that he sidestepped was when asked if missing out on first two Tests was frustrating and how he coped up.
”To be honest not much. I was just practising, training and getting opportunities is not up to me but to team management. I was doing everything that was under my control.”