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Indian Premier League 2023

Yeh Gill maange more – This isn’t the beginning of Shubman; it’s his graduation

Shubman Gill celebrates after hitting a century in IPL 2023 Eliminator against Mumbai Indians
Aadya Sharma by Aadya Sharma
@Aadya_Wisden 4 minute read

In Ahmedabad, Shubman Gill weaved, thread by thread, one of the all-time great IPL hundreds, locking his side in the final. Aadya Sharma was at the ground to witness the regality of Indian Cricket’s new crown prince.

Shubman Gill did a half-hop, swung his bat to one side and kicked the pitch in disgust after he had fallen for 129 of the most glorious T20 runs you would see. They were not enough for him, and it showed.

It wasn’t enough for a man with three centuries in his last four IPL innings and nearly a fifth if you go back two more games. At the moment, he’s a machine, a run-churning monster who’s speeding upwards, at breakneck speed, through several rungs of great batsmanship and worldly acclaim. He can’t be bracketed under any of cricket’s conventional terminology for a bright young star. The nebula has exploded into something greater.


And he’s doing it with unnerving calm. Those determined eyes still express like a child, but the words don’t divulge much. He uses the dullest of cliches to describe his batting, and circles in the loop of vague words – process, belief, implementation, you almost know the full list – at the presentation ceremony.

That is okay. He is not here to wax eloquent about himself. That is our job. Lately, we’ve been struggling to find words.

Every knock attests more than the previous one the fact that Gill has been born to play, to triumph, to become the placid, brooding superstar who can stir a tempest at will. At Ahmedabad, Gill unbuilt an entire Mumbai attack with remarkable contempt and without looking even a tad savage. He clinically smothered them to bits, and he grinned only slightly.

The disdainful assault began with leg-side whips and flicks that screamed balance and timing. On a pitch that had been just saved from a downpour, and an outfield slowed down by all the water, the ball popped off Gill’s bat like corks from bottles of champagne.

Over the next hour or so, Gill gave Mumbai nothing… except a mistimed drive that Tim David couldn’t hold on to. He was on 30 then. David, on his knees, stared at nothingness. Chris Jordan smiled. They knew what had happened, and what would happen.

Not long after, the entire MI team was on their knees. Piyush Chawla was the first real victim, getting carved over his head with viciously clean strikes. Floated deliveries had no business being around Gill, he was sending them out of his sight. MI’s best bowler of the season was suddenly pedestrian.

Yet, barring some hits of sublime timing, there was nothing out of the ordinary in his first fifty, accumulated over 32 balls.

And then, a switch was flicked.

Cam Green got a slight taste of the brutality that was to follow, copping a full-blooded drive on his palm. To his credit, he saved his face well. For the remainder of the night, there was little face-saving from the rest of the attack.

Next came Akash Madhwal, Mumbai’s bright new find. Gill bulldozed over him, showing no mercy to the hero of two nights ago. It was a no-contest: Madhwal erred with his lines, and Gill clanked them past the boundary. Three went over the fence in one over. Gill later said it was that sequence that told him it was his day.

The crunchy whip off his pads was delicious, as was the swatted six, but there was something special in the front-foot flick, all in the same over. It was probably the cold-blooded side-eye that he gave the shot as he flew away, reminding it where to fall. Modish monster.

By the time Chawla was easily deposited behind the sightscreen in the 13th over, Gill had already entered the mid-80s. A paddle sweep pushed him into the 90s. Then came a jumbo hit: a 106-metre strike that was fueled by the dreamlike flourish and timing of his swing.

An over and a half later, Gill danced helmetless in the middle, punching his headgear in the air and letting out a roar. Batting records were falling to bits. Gill bowed. Hardik Pandya was excitedly clapping – no, slapping his hands in delight – a look of intense pride tearing in his eyes.

Gill executed the celebration as if he had rehearsed it several times. At the rate he is going, he won’t need rehearsals really.

There were barely any missteps, if at all. The tall, lithe frame and the mechanically precise swing combined to create a mystical accuracy of timing, nearing perfection like few in the sport consistently can.

It was not a one-off for Gill: he has been in this mode for months now.

My favourite Gill shot from last night probably was not any of the ten sixes but a wrist-wrenching slice off a low full-toss from Chris Jordan, played so late and so fine that it blazed to the point ropes. “No, that is crazy,” exclaimed Ian Bishop. “That really is crazy”. Jordan was aghast.

The clinical dismantling of Mumbai continued until late. It was David who finally caught him in the deep, carrying the same gaze of nothingness in his eyes, for 99 runs had elapsed between the two opportunities.

Gill kicked the pitch in disgust. Every pair of hands and lungs in the stands cheered.

This isn’t the beginning of Shubman Gill. It’s his graduation. The Boy Wonder is ready to take on the big bad world. He is going to see you in the eye and hit you for a six. There won’t be much talking. It will happen, you can only helplessly watch.

In the 1990s, Sachin Tendulkar used to be the face of one of the world’s most popular beverages in India. The Hindi tagline would read – yeh dil maange more (the heart yearns for more), probably a verbal manifestation of the sentiment India felt when he batted.

Add a few decades and twist it a bit. Now, yeh Gill maange more. I shall only go so far with the comparison. If all goes well, Gill might add some more to it over the next decade.

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