Shubman Gill: ‘My focus is only on the bowler’

The opener, who struck a match-winning century for India C in the Deodhar Trophy match against India A, says he keeps things simple in the middle.

Shubman Gill Deodhar Trophy

India C's Shubman Gill scored an unbeaten hundred against India A.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Nineteen-year-old Shubman Gill is cognisant of the value of an uncluttered mind. Looking to bat until the end, he planned to punish loose deliveries and keep the scoreboard ticking with singles.

Gill curbed his attacking instincts for a considerable portion of the chase of 294, before Suryakumar Yadav at the end enabled him to loosen up. Even as his more aggressive batting partners were getting dismissed, he held one end up without much fuss.

Overall, his game-plan was simple. “It was important to pounce on the loose deliveries on this pitch because if you don’t convert those [into runs or boundaries] then the pressure will keep being added. We were chasing a run-rate of six per over for the entire innings. If a loose ball is converted once [in the over] then the main thing [to ensure] is that singles keep coming. If there’s one boundary in every over, then we must aim to keep scoring seven or eight runs in those overs. The run-rate also keeps increasing, and the scoreboard keeps moving,” he told media persons after the contest.

Batting on what he considered as a better pitch for batsmen than in India C’s contest on Wednesday, Gill knew he had to be cautious. After a smooth start to the innings in the first hour after lunch, he chose to be the right foil for Suresh Raina’s planned attack.

“I was set. At that time, our plan was that I will stay until the end because for me, the field had been opened [by the bowling side] (sic). It was easier for him to clear the in-fielders [and ensure boundaries] and it was easier for me to take singles then. At that time, we decided that whatever was in his radar he would hit, and if I got something on my radar, I would hit, too. Otherwise, I would give him the strike,” Gill recalled.

He chose to observe phases of play and adjust accordingly. “There was a phase in the middle when I hit three or four boundaries (in close succession), and during another phase, Ishan [Kishan] executed six big hits (in close succession). The other batsman has to ensure that he doesn’t give away his wicket during these scenarios. He can keep taking singles and whoever is hitting the deliveries well can keep hitting them,” he revealed.

Striking this balance and choosing these moments boiled down to what he called “belief.”

He said, “At this age, we watch a lot of cricket on TV and try to understand it. When a person experiences it once or twice, he realises the right process of handling these scenarios. Most of the times, it depends on the belief, which comes from practice. If whatever you practice comes out to be replicated in matches, then the belief gets even stronger.

Gill revealed a simple mantra he had to ward off the pressure of expectations. “Once you are on the ground, it’s just bat and ball - that you have to score these many runs (sic), regardless of how you score them. My focus is only on the bowler. I just think about scoring runs and not about ‘what’s going to happen if I don’t score the runs’,” he said.

Will there be another special knock in the final on Saturday? Gill promised he would attempt an encore. “I’ll try to back this up with another good performance in the next game,” he said.