Shubman Gill is not getting opportunities to bat higher in the Kolkata Knight Riders line-up because the top and middle-order positions have been firmed up in favour of more experienced hands, their captain Dinesh Karthik explained. Karthik said that Gill did open once this season when their regular opener Chris Lynn was unwell, but otherwise he had to look at the team "as a whole and not just one bright kid on the block".
"I've been asked this a number of times... Look, we've made it clear to Shubman that, as and when opportunities arise, he will be sent up the order," Karthik told the Telegraph. "Shubman was promoted to open when Chris Lynn was unwell. He grabbed that chance and got 65. Now, when Lynn was available, we had to give him back his position. He's done a lot for us and we have to show faith... Sunil Narine, for his part, stays as the other opener.
"Question is whether we can bat Shubman at No. 3 or No. 4. Well, Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana have won us matches from those positions and, again, it's a matter of showing faith. India is obsessed with novelties, and even I like novelties, but I have to look at Knight Riders as a whole and not just one bright kid on the block. I need to show faith in Shubman, yes, equally I have a responsibility to give Robin and Nitish enough opportunities. As the captain, I have to show faith... Is Shubman upset at going down the order? I don't think so."
Gill made his IPL and T20 debut last year for Knight Riders and played 13 of their 16 matches. He impressed with his strokeplay and scored 203 runs at average of 33.83 and strike rate of 146.04. Apart from the odd chance in the top order, Gill batted three times at No. 6 and six times at No. 7 in IPL 2018 to play the finisher's role. This season, too, he has batted three times at No. 6 and twice at No. 7 so far, and once each as an opener and No. 4 batsman.
Gill was asked how he prepared for facing only six-odd balls when he bats at No. 7. "To face those six balls you have to practice at least 100 balls at nets," he told kkr.in. "If you practice less, you'll lack confidence even to hit four out of those six balls. The mentality shouldn't be to practice less just because you are going to face just those number of balls. So to make the most of those six balls, one must utilise their net sessions."