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IPL Qualifier 2, GT vs MI: Shubman Gill in a league of his own

There’s dominance, there’s utter dominance and then there’s Shubman Gill. Considered as one of the ‘next big things’ in Indian cricket when the team won the 2018 U19 World Cup, 23-year-old Shubman has over the last year or so taken the cricketing world by storm.

Fast forward to 2023, Gill has earned not just the fans’ adulation but that of the cricketing fraternity.

Gill, who plays for Gujarat Titans (GT), has been consistent with the bat in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), but for a player like Gill, along with consistency comes pure dominance.

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Shubman Gill says 129 against Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 his ‘best innings so far in the IPL’

And he showcased that in GT’s Qualifier 2 win over Mumbai Indians (MI) in Ahmedabad on Friday, a match where he demolished the opposition bowlers with a 60-ball 129.

On Friday, Gill went all out from the word go, but what made his innings a treat to watch was the way he balanced between being aggressive and rotating strike.

Gill kick-started his innings in a composed manner. At first, barring a couple of boundaries in the first five overs, Gill dealt with rotating strike by taking the ones and two. And in the final over of the powerplay, Gill hit Chris Jordan over square leg for a six, and that was followed by a four through the covers in the very next ball.

It was in the same over Gill received a crucial lifeline. Only into his 30s, Tim David at mid-on dropped a catch, despite diving to his right and getting both hands on it. But, for David, that chance went begging after the ball hit his wrist and eventually failed to get hold of the catch.

Had Gill been caught by David, the script of this contest could have completely changed, and maybe, just maybe, the MI bowlers could have had much more say.

While Gill kept playing the balancing act of scoring boundaries and taking ones/twos, it was not until the 12th over when the Punjab-born cricketer finally played the role of an aggressor.

In the 12th over, Gill was facing Akash Madhwal, Player of the Match in MI’s win over Lucknow Super Giants. Madhwal, who had taken 5/5, was certainly a threat. But not for Gill.

Madhwal began the over with a fuller-length ball on the pads, and Gill made it look so easy, unleashing over the square leg in his own fashion.

Next one was a short ball outside off from Madhwal, and Gill, with his near flawless batting, launched over the midwicket for another maximum.

Gill then cleared midwicket for another six in the fifth ball of the over, but he was in no mood to stop just yet.

It was almost like a highlights show, with Gill hitting all over the park as if the stadium belonged exclusively to him.

But for MI, it seemed as though they were in some sort of time loop. No matter what tactic they tried, the same thing kept happening over and over again.

What caught the eye of many was Gill’s 106-metre six in the 13th over bowled by Piyush Chawla. On this occasion, Gill went down the track, and hoicked over long-on for a maximum that helped him go past the 90s.

Gill brought up his century off 49 deliveries with a single towards long on, but piled misery on Cameron Green, who was bowling that over.

Gill began the third ball of the over with six and a four, and followed it up with another maximum, a pull over wide long-on.

To put into simple words, Gill was an absolute beast. Almost as if he was in a league of his own.

Gill was eventually dismissed by Madhwal, with Gill having holed out to Tim David at deep midwicket. Even at this point, it was evident on Gill’s face that he just was not willing to stop.

It was only more fitting that Gill walked back to a standing ovation from the Ahmedabad crowd. Just one of those things you love to see.

MI’s chase, and the Suryakumar resistance

Not all was well in the MI camp midway through the match. Rohit Sharma hurt his hand while fielding, and Ishan Kishan accidentally collided with Chris Jordan. During the final few overs of GT’s innings, Rohit left the field and was seen applying ice on his left hand.

Kishan’s injury, though, appeared to be more serious than Rohit’s after the former failed to walk out and bat. Vishnu Vinod replaced him as a concussion substitute, while Nehal Wadhera opened the innings.

Cameron Green, too, was hit on the elbow and appeared to be in discomfort during his  batting. And although he was “retired hurt” following his injury, the Aussie later returned to bat, following Tilak Varma’s dismissal.

Green scored 30, but it was Suryakumar Yadav who kept MI’s smallest of chances alive. While SKY contributed 50-run stands with both Tilak Varma and Green, with Vishnu Vinod (5), it seemed as though almost the entire responsibility of getting the big runs fell on him.

SKY kept collecting the boundaries at regular intervals, and eventually got to his fifty with a scoop shot over short fine and into the stands for a six.

Scoop shots are a thing for Suryakumar Yadav, but not every time things go your way. In fact, Suryakumar was dismissed after attempting a scoop shot while facing Mohit Sharma.

Mohit came up with a full delivery at the stumps to SKY in the 15th over, and it was that same scoop shot over short fine that Suryakumar tried, but this time fell victim to a dismissal, as the ball eventually took out the leg stump.

After Suryakumar’s dismissal, MI’s chase was never the same. From 155/5, the five-time champions were bundled out for 171, with Mohit Sharma (5/10), GT’s Man of the Moment, playing a huge part.

Mohammed Shami impactful in powerplay

GT’s bowling has been near-perfect this season, and part of that is due to Mohammed Shami’s impactful role in the powerplay.

Shami, currently the Purple Cap holder with 28 wickets, struck early twice in MI’s chase. His first was as early as the first over, when he got rid of Nehal Wadhera, who was looking for a pull shot but nicked away to Saha.

Shami’s second victim was MI skipper Rohit Sharma. Rohit, too, was looking to play the pull shot, and eventually got a top edge. Josh Little came down from fine leg and took the catch to complete the dismissal.

With these dismissals, Shami’s wickets tally in powerplay in IPL 2023 surged to 17, with the other 11 wickets of his coming outside the first six overs.

For GT, IPL means serious business. With an in-form Shubman Gill in their ranks and some top-notch bowlers like Shami and Rashid Khan, GT have arguably been the most clinical side in the league this season. In fact, GT have been the team to beat. But CSK, under Dhoni, will pose a different threat altogether for GT in the final.

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