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‘Enjoyed batting with Lynn, Narine’ – Shubman Gill talks about his ideal opening partner

India batter Shubman Gill talked about his upcoming stint with his new IPL team, Gujarat Titans, for whom he is expected to open the batting this IPL. The 22-year old was bought for 8 crore by GT in the IPL auction, held in February.

Gill’s three years with Kolkata Knight Riders, after they signed him for 1.8 crore back in 2018, were a great success. He’s scored 1417 runs at a strike rate of 123, and won the Emerging Player of the year in 2019. KKR briefly experimented with batting Gill lower down the order, and he spent 14 innings batting at positions 6 and 7. But he came into his own once he was allowed to open the batting, with nine fifties from 37 innings.

The team tried a number of combinations alongside Gill at the top, including Nitish Rana and Venkatesh Iyer in the 2021 season. When asked about his favourite pairing, Gill said, “When I started opening in IPL, my first opening partner was Chris Lynn and we had some good partnerships. I really enjoyed batting with him. For some matches, Sunil Narine opened with me. There is no specific name as such, but the right-left combination works the best.”

The elegant opener has proved his mettle abroad, especially during the tour of Australia in the winter of 2020-21. His straight bat and foolproof technique enabled him to defend well against the bristling Aussie pace unit, and, like his captain Rohit Sharma, he displays a deep affinity for the hook and pull shots.

“Pull shot is one shot that I have always liked. I recently talked to Rohit Sharma, it was about something tactically,” Gill said, while speaking at a media interaction. “I asked him when he hits the ball, what goes in his mind and how does he read the bowlers’ mind? There was something particular that I wanted to talk to Rohit Sharma about. It was not about opening the batting,” he added.

Injury break disappointing, says Gill

Gill played no cricket after the winter of 2021. He looked promising in the Test series against New Zealand, with 144 runs from 4 innings, but was laid off after the second Test with an elbow injury.

“When you miss a tour, it is always disappointing but the injury is something you do not have control over,” Gill explained. “I am young and I will have opportunities going ahead. But when you miss series against England and South Africa, it is a big thing as you always want to perform as a youngster in overseas Tests.”

GIll has been reunited with an old KKR teammate, Kiwi quick Lockie Ferguson. On being asked about GT’s biggest impact player this season, Gill said, “Yeah, I think Lockie Ferguson, when we were in the Kolkata Knight Riders, he was a huge asset for us, and I am sure he is going to be a huge X-factor for us in the Gujarat Titans squad.”

Gujarat Titans will kick-start their first ever IPL season with a fixture against Lucknow Supergiants on March 28.

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