Indian cricketer Shubman Gill is ready to claim the number 3 position in the upcoming two-match Test series against West Indies, signifying a misstep significant step forward. This move signifies a new perspective as Team India enters the third cycle of the World Test Championship (WTC), making bold decisions regarding strategic selection.
Analyzing the Misstep
In particular, senior player Cheteshwar Pujara did not find a place in the team, while new players like Ruturaj Gaikwad, Mukesh Kumar, and Yashasvi Jaiswal have been included. Jaiswal, who will be debuting in the opening match alongside captain Rohit Sharma, will bring a change in Gill’s batting position.
During a press conference prior to the match, Rohit Sharma discussed this decision. Gill expressed his priority towards coach Rahul Dravid, stating that he has played the majority of his cricket at number 3 and number 4 positions, believing that he can contribute better to the team in that role.
Sharma acknowledged that this switch will require adjustments in the batting lineup, and the team is excited about it. He hopes that this arrangement becomes a long-term setup.
Since his debut for Team India, Gill has primarily played as an opening batsman, solidifying his place. Meanwhile, other opening batsmen like KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal are struggling with their form.
However, there are potential drawbacks to Gill’s decision to bat at number 3 in Test cricket against West Indies. Let’s examine three reasons why this move may not be the ideal choice.
Firstly, it is questionable to shift an established opening pair’s balance to accommodate a left-handed opening batsman at number 3, despite the desire for a left-right combination.
Although Gill himself suggested this change, it is the team’s responsibility to consider the pros and cons of this decision, especially when it involves displacing a proven candidate in that position.
Secondly, such a sudden change in position could affect Gill’s impactful form. Gill’s fortune turned around in 2022 during the Caribbean tour, where he was chosen as the Player of the Series. Since then, he has maintained a regular presence in the Indian team.
However, a series of poor scores can dampen his hard work. The top order in Indian cricket is highly competitive, with several talented players waiting for their opportunity.
For Gill, 2023 has been an exceptional year. He secured his place in the top order in One-Day Internationals, won the Orange Cap in the IPL, and scored multiple centuries in red-ball cricket. His form is crucial for India as they prepare for the Asia Cup and the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
If the switch to number 3 fails, it could prove challenging to reintegrate Gill into the opening position, especially if Yashasvi Jaiswal performs well as an opening batsman.
Lastly, moving Gill to number 3 may not be a long-term solution. Although Pujara and Hanuma Vihari are currently not in the team, it would be hasty to assume their international careers are over.
Pujara has already made a comeback after being dropped, while the 29-year-old Vihari can still make a return based on his strong domestic performances.
Ajinkya Rahane recently made a successful comeback, and Shreyas Iyer is gearing up for a comeback after recovering from injury. India has numerous options, and Gill’s move to number 3 could be a temporary plan dependent on future circumstances.
In conclusion, while the decision to place Shubman Gill at number 3 against West Indies in the Test series indicates a new perspective for Team India, it raises valid concerns about the promotion of an established opening batsman, Gill’s form, and the availability of other talented players. The outcome remains to be seen, whether this step proves successful or requires further adjustments in the future.