India’s stand-in skipper, Hardik Pandya was very clear that Prithvi Shaw will not be in the starting XI as he has returned to the squad for the three-match T20I series against New Zealand, which starts in Ranchi on Friday. Hardik was clear about who would open for his side. Shubman Gill, in sublime, has a clear headway over Shaw, who last featured for his country 17 months ago.
During the pre-match press conference, Hardik Pandya said, “Shubman (Gill) has done well. He’ll start. It isn’t even about giving him an opportunity as he has been batting well and was already in the team before.”
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Shubman Gill displayed otherworldly form with the bat when he amassed 360 runs in the recently concluded ODI series against the Black Caps. After nine innings so far across formats in 2023, Gill leads the run-scoring tally in international cricket with 625 runs, including fifty, two centuries, and a double hundred.
3⃣6⃣0⃣ runs in three matches 🙌@ShubmanGill becomes the Player of the Series for his sensational performance with the bat, including a double-hundred in the #INDvNZ ODI series👏👏
Scorecard ▶️ https://t.co/ojTz5RqWZf…@mastercardindia pic.twitter.com/77HJHLgJoL
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 24, 2023
However, Shubman Gill hasn’t been at his best in T20Is. In three T20Is, all against Sri Lanka in the recent series, he has only scored 58 runs. But he amassed 483 runs at a strike rate of 132.32 and wrapped up the title for Gujarat Titans with a six. On the other hand, Prithvi Shaw has been in red-hot form across formats this domestic season for Mumbai, which paved his way back into the national side.
Even though southpaw Ishan Kishan starts the series as a first-choice opener alongside Gill, Hardik Pandya indicated that he does not buy too much into the left-right combination theory. He said, “It doesn’t matter whether it is left-right or right-right,” he said. “The best players will get to play no matter if they are left or right-handed.”
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On stepping up as India’s new ball bowler Hardik said: “I have always enjoyed bowling with the new ball. For quite a number of years whenever I bowl in the nets, I pick the new ball. I am used to the old ball so I don’t feel the need to practice with the old ball as much. It has helped in match situations. With our two main bowlers rested in the last game, I had to be ready. But (it) has never been about pressure, half of the time pressure is gone if you prepare well.”