'Play how you want to play' - Shubman Gill credits this Indian big star amidst incredible run
Enjoying a tremendous phase with the bat and reigning supreme on the runs-chart for IPL 2023, Gujarat Titans (GT) opening batter Shubman Gill cast his mind back to times he wasn't sure of his footing in the T20 game. The prodigiously talented young right-hander said he needed a guiding light and hand around his shoulder to retain faith in his own abilities.
That able hand on the shoulder was provided by Gill's Titans skipper Hardik Pandya, whom the 23-year-old top-order blazer credited for his incredible transformation into an all-conquering IPL beast. From being axed by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to becoming the linchpin for the defending champions, Gill spoke of his transition and lauded Hardik for his support.
Speaking to IPLT20.com, the Indian batter on the rise expressed gratitude towards his captain for reinforcing belief in his game when he was on the verge of losing it at the start of the previous summer.
Shubman Gill revealed feeling doubtful over his game after being released by KKR on the back of a lacklustre IPL 2021 while trying to match other successful T20 players and losing his basic game in the process. It was at that time, Pandya told him "to play how you want to play" and provided the GT opener the assurance and role clarity that has since added his wings to his T20 prowess.
Shubman Gill credits skipper Pandya for T20 transformation
Being one of the heroes of Titans' inspirational maiden run to the title in IPL 2022, Shubman Gill made 483 runs in 16 innings at a healthy strike-rate of 132.22. The batter struck four half-centuries, including a priceless effort in the marquee final where he hit the winning runs against the Rajasthan Royals (RR).
The fruitful campaign opened doors for his inclusion to India's senior T20I set-up after the World Cup in Australia. The childhood prodigy relished a top-order spot and blazed an excellent ton in the decider of the series played against New Zealand in February, which, in retrospect, was a prelude to his jaw-dropping run in IPL 2023.
"Last year before starting the IPL, he (Hardik Pandya) was the first person that came to me and told me to play how you want to play and I feel before getting a chance to play for GT, sometimes I felt I was trying to play as someone I wasn't and he gave me the confidence to be able to play how I want to play," Gill told IPLT20.com after his third ton in four innings of IPL 2023, where he currently has a tally of 851 runs in 16 innings.
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Gill's run has notably coincided with an expansion of his boundary-hitting range. Even in a breakthrough IPL 2022 season, the young gun hit only 51 fours and 11 sixes. In the IPL 2023, however, he has belted 78 fours and 33 sixes, surpassing his own best tally in equal innings with an outing to spare in the final against the Chennai Super Kings on Sunday (May 28).
"In the first half of the IPL, I was getting starts and I was not able to convert them so I knew it was all about getting that one 100 and knew when I get that one 100 and it's all about the mental switch and then you start thinking differently, you start playing differently and I think that's what worked for me," he added.