Ind vs Aus 3rd Test: Shubman Gill joins T Natarajan as India’s find at Australian tour

Ind vs Aus 3rd Test: Shubman Gill took his score a notch-up and hit his maiden Test fifty in only his second red-ball match on Friday in India against Australia third Test of Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Sydney. His fifty-run knock included eight boundaries. The right-handed batsman is now the fourth youngest Indian opener to score a 50 plus outside Asia. Others being Ravi Shastri, Madhav Apte and Prithvi Shaw in that order. But it is his composure and shot selection that has floored the cricket experts, calling him the future of Indian cricket.

Gill’s Kolkata Knight Riders’ teammate and former skipper Dinesh Karthik called the youngster a “star”. “A star has arrived. Good start Gilly! You looked good the whole time,” he wrote on Twitter.

His 70-run stand with Rohit Sharma — India’s first 50-plus partnership in 14 innings— speaks volume of the versatility in his batting.

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VVS Laxman echoed Karthik and praised the 21-year-old for his defence, and intent against Australia’s pace battery in the the most hostile conditions in cricketing world. “For someone playing only his second test match, Shubman Gill looks very assured at the wicket. Good solid defence, positive stroke play and clarity of thought. Definitely has a very bright future for India in all the three formats.

So is the Punjab batsman the find of Australian tour for India or does he have competition from any of his teammates?

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Ind vs Aus 3rd Test: Shubman Gill’s performance so far

Gill, unlike many of his senior counterparts, has a more attacking approach to batting. In six innings — two tour games and 2nd & 3rd Test — his scores he has scored 261 runs including to fifties.

1st tour game:
29 off 24 balls

2nd tour game:
43 off 58 balls
65 off 78 balls

2nd Test (Debut):
45 off 65 balls
35 off 36 balls

3rd Test:
50 off 101 balls

Interestingly, it is not the first time the youngster is opening in red-ball cricket. He plays as an opener for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy and has amassed 2,612 runs in 22 First-Class matches. The majority of his runs has come as an opener.

He is a mixed bag of caution and aggression. Gill’s temperament in the game and changing gears at will is the reason he scores quickly without taking too much of risk. His game is tailor-made for Australian pitches. His back-foot stance, courtesy of his early cricketing years on concrete, is a big point against bouncy pitches of Down Under. According to his Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) coach, Abhishek Nayar, due to a predominant back-foot game, “leaning into drive does not come naturally”.

But he has a strong competition from T Natarajan who is yet to make his red-ball cricket debut.

Ind vs Aus 3rd Test: T Natarajan a strong competitor

The fast bowler has had a fairytale rise to his international career. Originally part of the T20 squad, he was included in the ODI team after Varun Chakravarthy was ruled out before the starting of the tour. He made his debut in the 3rd ODI, where he chipped two wickets.

Owing to his spectacular performance, Natarajan was given the T20 debut at Manuka Oval. And he did not disappoint. He took three wickets in the three-match series. Hardik Pandya was so impressed by him that he gave his Man of the Series trophy to Natarajan.

The 29-year-old, however, lacks the white-ball cricket experience and that is where Gill inches ahead. Nonetheless, India would be happy to have both of them in their future tours leading upto the World Test Championship and T20 World scheduled for later this year.