In the lead-up to the Asia Cup Super-4 clash against arch-rivals Pakistan, Indian batting sensation Shubman Gill shed light on the challenges of Pakistan’s formidable bowling attack. Gill’s candid remarks provide valuable insights into why the Men in Blue sometimes struggle against their Pakistani counterparts.
The rivalry between India and Pakistan in cricket is legendary. The stakes are high whenever these two cricketing giants clash, and emotions run even higher. While cricket enthusiasts eagerly await these encounters, the players face unique challenges, especially when tackling the opposition’s bowlers.
Gill acknowledged that one of the key reasons for India’s occasional struggles against Pakistan is the quality of the Pakistani bowling attack. In particular, he highlighted the left-arm pace of Shaheen Shah Afridi, which has often posed a challenge to the Indian batters.
In a pre-match press conference, Gill said, “When you are playing at this level, you play left-armer pacers at some point in your career. We do not play Pakistan that much as compared to the other sides. They have a quality bowling attack. It makes a difference when you do not face such a bowling attack frequently and are not used to it.”
One factor that Gill pointed out is the limited exposure Indian players have to Pakistan’s bowlers. Unlike matches against other teams, India does not frequently encounter Pakistan on the cricketing battlefield. This lack of exposure to the nuances of Pakistan’s bowling style can make a significant difference during a crucial match.
Gill also highlighted the contrast in playing styles between himself and his opening partner, skipper Rohit Sharma. While Gill prefers to keep his shots along the ground during the powerplay, Rohit Sharma is known for his aerial prowess. This stark contrast in playing styles often puts bowlers in a dilemma, as they must adjust their strategies rapidly.
“I like to play along the ground in the powerplay. Rohit takes on bowlers aerially. This combination works well for us. How different we are as players makes it difficult for bowlers to contain us,” said Gill.
Gill spoke about his brief slump in form following the Indian Premier League (IPL) and emphasized that sometimes, it’s not about technique but rather the sheer quality of the opposition’s bowling. He acknowledged that even the best batters can fall victim to exceptional deliveries, and the key is to trust one’s game and persistently strive for success.
“Yes, you go back to the good times (during a slump). Sometimes, it is not even about technique. It is just about the bowlers, who are also there to take wickets. You can get some good deliveries. When you play well, some things go in your favour. You have to trust your game and keep going to get those big runs,” he said.
When asked about Pakistan’s skipper, Babar Azam, Gill admired his skills and labelled him a “world-class player.” Gill’s acknowledgement reflects the universal appeal of great cricketing talent and the desire of players to learn from their peers.
“Yes, definitely, we follow him. When a player is doing well. Everyone watches him to find out their speciality and why they are doing so well. The same thing goes for Babar. He is a world-class player, and we all admire him,” said Gill.
Gill offered insights into the differences between Pakistan’s pacers, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah. While Shaheen excels in swing bowling, Naseem possesses greater pace and accuracy. This diversity in the bowling lineup adds to the challenge faced by Indian batters.
As India prepares for the ICC Cricket World Cup, Gill emphasized that the team is clear about their roles and batting positions. A solid foundation and the intent to dominate remain their primary objectives.
Gill said, “Our plans will be the same: to give a solid foundation and dominate. In that last game against Pakistan, our top order did not do well. But still, we made around 260 and looked set to make 310-320 runs at some point at such a wicket. These are good signs.”