A day after the Indian skipper made it clear that he preferred Gill in the opener’s slot ahead of in-form left-hander Ishan Kishan, Gill repaid the faith with a well-compiled 70 from 60 balls to set up India’s mammoth 67-run win over Sri Lanka in the opening ODI here on Tuesday.
“It feels good when your captain backs you. This was the conversation we had in the practice sessions that I would look to play my natural game whatever I’m doing in the one-dayers. Just look to continue the momentum,” Gill said at the post-match media interaction.
Gill had a fruitful 2022 in the ODI format where he scored 638 runs from 12 innings at an average of 70.88 and it included his maiden century and four fifties.
Continuing from where he left, he began 2023 with yet another half-century as he along with Rohit put on a 143-run opening stand that set the tone for India’s mammoth 373/7.
On his chemistry with Rohit at the top of the order he said: “We batted mainly in the Tests. It’s nice to bat with him. the conversation generally which bowler to target, what are they trying to do, where are they trying to block our runs. Accordingly we make our plans.”
Shubman however missed out on a century after being trapped by Dasun Shanaka in the 20th over.
“Definitely, I was very disappointed to get out on 70. I did all the hardwork to get going and get a big one for the team. I got out in the 20th over, I had about 30 overs to bat.”
Defending 374, India had Sri Lanka in a spot of bother with 179/7 inside 33 overs but they failed to wrap up the tail as Shanaka’s 108 not out from 88 balls took them to 306/8.
Blaming it on the heavy dew, Gill said: “I don’t think bowling is a concern, we bowled pretty well. We got them eight down on that wicket and there was dew as well. It was not easy bowl when you are bowling second with that much dew.”
“It’s not easy to control the wet ball. Sometimes the spinners can go out of the game but that did not happen in this match.
“Both Yuzi (Yuzvendra Chahal) bhai and Axar (Patel) bhai bowled really well. It’s a challenge to field as well, sometimes the balls skids off the field and it’s hard to catch the ball because its wet. It’s like playing with butter in your hands. it’s not easy to bowl when there’s dew.”
Gill further said the batters were trying their best to reduce the number of dot balls.
“We are continuously checking areas and aspects where we can improve on. We are working on that. No batsman likes to play dot balls.
“But sometimes you have to see the game situation… if the game situation doesn’t demand you to play too many high-scoring shots (like when) two wickets have gone down, as a batsman you (need to) have that confidence that I’m playing the dot balls but can cover up the runs later. But yeah that is one area we are continuously trying to improve.”
Umran Malik also impressed with his raw pace and Gill said “It’s always fun and challenging to face Umran at the nets. I’m someone who likes to face pace, so there’s always a bit of challenge facing Umran at the nets.”