Shubman Gill’s Intense Preparation for Pakistan’s Left-Arm Pace Exam in Ind vs Pak Asia Cup

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The Challenge of Facing Pakistan’s Bowlers: Shubman Gill Prepares for the Big Test

S Sudarshanan

Gill on the challenge of facing Pakistan’s bowlers

He says India’s batters always have to adapt quickly to Pakistan’s bowlers since the teams don’t meet outside big tournaments

It is like the process you followed for your math exam. Prepare hard, solve a few problems – the more complex the better – to ready yourself for the toughest questions.

Training Sessions to Face Pakistan

In Colombo, Shubman Gill has been that guy. India had two optional nets and one full session under lights in the days leading up to their Asia Cup Super Four game against Pakistan. Gill took part in every one of them – even the optional training on Thursday and Saturday – and batted long hours. After all, he will be keen to perform better than the last time he faced Pakistan, which was in the group stage where he made 10 off 32 balls.

  • Face left-arm throwdowns
  • Work consciously on the forward stride
  • Look at footage and chat with the batting coach
  • Repeat the net routine

Gill had his nets routine pretty much set on each of the first two days. Last week was the first time he had played against Pakistan in senior men’s cricket. Given India could play them at least three times – if both teams make the Asia Cup final – in the next couple of months, he left no stone unturned to be ready.

Facing Left-Arm Throwdowns

So much has Gill faced Nuwan Seneviratne, India’s left-arm throwdown specialist, throughout the tournament that it wouldn’t be a surprise if he had the Sri Lankan on speed dial. The indoor nets on Thursday were all about getting his footwork right against the left-arm over-the-wicket angle and, importantly, not falling over while playing deliveries straightening into him.

“[Seneviratne] has been with us for the past seven-eight years,” Gill said before training. “We have two right-arm throwdown side-arm specialists, and as a variation, we also have a left-arm side-arm specialist. It helps in various conditions.”

Preparing for Different Lengths

On Saturday, it was a tad different. His training on the eve of the India-Pakistan match was about the hard lengths. It was perhaps the shortest batting stint he had in the nets all Asia Cup.

Shubman Gill made 10 off 32 in the opening match of the Asia Cup Getty Images

Having survived probing spells from Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, Gill fell to first-change Haris Rauf in the last meeting against Pakistan. It was an in-between length that he inside-edged onto his stumps.

He worked on picking lengths early and putting them away. He received a good mix of full and hard-length deliveries, and a few bumpers along the way. It was not the prettiest Gill net to watch: he was beaten on both edges, edged a few balls, and lost his off stump once. He had a short chat with batting coach Vikram Rathour and continued for about 15 minutes more.

“Shaheen swings the ball more. Naseem relies more on pace,” Gill said. “If he gets help from the surface, he hits good areas. Both are different bowlers and pose different challenges.
“Before getting to [international] level, every batter would have faced left-arm bowling at some stage. Whenever you play a new bowler it makes a difference, [more so] because we don’t play Pakistan as often as we do some other teams. Coming up against a quality bowling attack like Pakistan’s, [not having played them that often before] makes a difference.
“Sometimes there’s no technical flaw as such. Bowlers are also there to bowl, and you might get some good deliveries. You might get some unfortunate dismissals. When you are playing well there might be a few things going your way. You have to trust your game, back yourself, and get those quick runs.”

Final Preparation for the Big Test

The prep’s done, and Gill will hope it translates into runs as he faces Sunday’s big test.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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