Hyderabad, January 29
Former India captain Anil Kumble feels the embattled Shubman Gill has been given the kind of “cushion” that veteran Cheteshwar Pujara never got and the young batter needs to make it count in the second Test against England or risk being under tremendous pressure.
The 24-year-old Gill has not scored a half century in his last 11 Test innings. He scored a 128 in India’s first innings against visiting Australia in Ahmedabad in March last year, but after that his highest score has been 36.
He made 23 and 0 in the two innings of the first Test against England here, which India lost by 28 runs on Sunday.
“He (Gill) has been given the cushion perhaps even a Cheteshwar Pujara didn’t get, although he (Pujara) has played over a 100 Tests,” Kumble said on ‘JioCinema’.
“I keep coming back to him (Pujara) mainly because that was his place (No 3) not too long ago. Pujara played in that World Test Championship final and post that, it’s been Shubman Gill, who’s been moving from the opener’s slot, and he himself wanted to bat at No. 3.”
The 36-year-old Pujara last played a Test in June 2023 — the World Test Championship final against Australia — and he was ignored after that. He scored a double hundred (243 not out) in a Ranji match earlier this month. Skipper Rohit Sharma, before the start of the England series, said younger players were being preferred in a bid to look ahead in Indian cricket.
Kumble said he needs to work on his mindset and also adjust his technique slightly for the second Test starting on February 2.
“So, when you want to bat at No. 3, especially in India, because you have that talent, you certainly need to work on your game. He has the skills, he is young and he’s learning, but he needs to do it in Vizag (in second Test), otherwise the pressure will be on him,” he observed.
“He needs to be a lot freer, score runs. He needs to come up with his own plan to tackle spin, because he has hard hands.
“It’s good for good surfaces where the ball is coming on nicely and the faster bowlers are bowling at you. But when the ball is turning, when it’s slow, you need to use your hands and control and check your shots. That’s something he needs to work on. It can’t be one flow all the time.”
But can Gill change his skill sets just four days before the next Test?
“I think it’s all the mindset. You can certainly work on your mindset, and you have the best possible person as the coach (Rahul Dravid) to manage that for Shubman Gill,” he pointed out.
Indian batters are known for playing spin better than others but they were outwitted by England in the first Test here. Kumble advised the Indians to think out of the box in the remaining matches.
“India certainly need to buckle up with their approach to playing against spin because I felt the approach of a couple of batters wasn’t positive and even the footwork wasn’t what you expected.
“I also felt that they were certainly rattled by the way England approached their batting and with that, they have to come up with plans, some unconventional ones,” he said.
Kumble also spoke on wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav’s chances of making it to the playing XI in the second Test.
“I am not really sure whether you need a fourth spinner. But if India feel that they need only one fast bowler, then having Kuldeep will certainly help. He will have variations but England will come and do the same things they did in Hyderabad,” he said.