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Abhishek Sharma or Shubman Gill, who should India ideally take as reserve opener in T20 WC 2024?

Abhishek Sharma or Shubman Gill, who should India ideally take as reserve opener in T20 WC 2024?

One of the top Indian batsmen in the IPL 2024, Abhishek Sharma may feel disappointed that he was left out of the Indian team for the T20 World Cup, if only as a reserve.

With the deadline to make any changes to a T20 World Cup 2024 squad set for May 25, the question remains – Is Team India in need to make any alteration to their selected 15-member roster? Well, while the non-selections of a proper death bowler or Rinku Singh have highly debated, one should also look at the case of Abhishek Sharma. The highly talented dasher has taken IPL 2024 by storm, leaving behind all the other openers, including Shubman Gill.

Abhishek Sharma and his ‘Orange’-hot form

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) tried Abhishek Sharma as an opener in IPL 2022, where he fared well, scoring over 400 runs. However, inconsistency prevailed next year, where his batting slot was changed quite significantly.

Inn.RunsBallsAvgSRHS501004s6s
1346722338.9209.475303541
Abhishek Sharma’s batting numbers in IPL 2024 league stages

This season, however, the young lad has defied expectations. He has seemed equally good against both pace and spin, tonking every bowler over the ropes with a rather ease. In fact, Abhishek has clubbed a total of 41 sixes for SRH this year, which is remarkably the most by any Indian in an IPL season. The previous record was held by none other than Virat Kohli (38 sixes in 2016).

Abhishek hasn’t just looked to muscle the ball every time. Instead, he has looked easy on the eyes, pulling every short balls, driving the ones that needs to be treated. In the 13 innings he has played in IPL 2024 thus far, the 23-year-old has walloped 467 runs at a astounding strike rate of 209.4.

More on IPL 2024

Shubman Gill and his nosedive form from 2023 to 2024

Shubman Gill’s IPL 2024 campaign was a stark contrast to his phenomenal performance in 2023. Having led the Gujarat Titans (GT) to a runners-up finish the previous year with the Orange Cap, Gill’s batting exploits dipped considerably this time around. While he did manage to score 426 runs in 12 matches, his average of 38.72 and strike rate of 147.40 fell short of the lofty standards he set in 2023.

YearInn.RunsBallsAvgSRHS501004s6s
20231789056459.3157.8129438533
20241242628938.7147.4104213715
Shubman Gill’s numbers in IPL 2023 and IPL 2024

There are a couple of possible explanations for this drop in form. Firstly, the added responsibility of captaincy could have played a role. Leading a young franchise for the first time might have weighed him down, affecting his batting rhythm.

Secondly, Gill’s strike rate suggests a more cautious approach at the crease compared to his free-flowing strokeplay in 2023. This could be a tactical shift due to captaincy duties, or it might reflect a conscious effort to play a more anchoring role for his team.

However, when compared to Abhishek Sharma’s red-hot form, Gill’s numbers appear even less impressive. Abhishek’s explosive batting and ability to score quickly from the get-go make a strong case for his inclusion in the T20 World Cup squad.

What has made Abhishek Sharma stand out from the rest?

What truly sets Abhishek apart is his aggressive approach in the powerplay overs, a stark contrast to some of India’s established openers. Batsmen need to capitalize during fielding restrictions when there are only two fielders are outside 30-yard circle.

PlayerRunsBallsAVGSR4s6s
Abhishek S32615554.33210.322628
Shubman G19414838.00131.08208
Virat Kohli34321285.7161.793320
Rohit S26917738.41522817

When comparing all four of Abhishek, Gill, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, the southpaw clearly comes out on top. It is simply because how dominating he has been. With an amazing strike rate of over 210, Abhishek truly charges the new-age T20 cricket formula. The slowest among all four is Gill, with a meek strike rate of 131.08.

The T20 World Cup often hinges on maximizing the powerplay overs. Getting off to a quick start not only puts pressure on the opposition but also sets the tone for a big total. Abhishek’s ability to do just that, with his left-handed variety adding another dimension, makes him a highly compelling choice for the World Cup squad. Moreover, the pitches in the West Indies and USA are likely to play slower as the game progresses.

In a format where every run counts and momentum is key, India might just need the X-factor that Abhishek brings – an opener who can take the attack to the opposition from the outset and dismantle their bowling plans in the crucial powerplay overs.

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