The Mumbai-Punjab Syed Mushtaq Trophy Super League match was far from an inconsequential fixture between two teams that were already out of semifinal contention. With two of the finest young opening batsmen in the country around, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, and the selectors looking for options beyond Dhawan, India could be hunting for an opening partner for Rohit Sharma in the T20s. The narrative of the match converged to the two young men. Shaw, two-Test-old and a centurion, and two-ODI-experienced Gill.
Both didn’t disappoint. Shaw was on show first, and he pleased the sparse crowd at the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium with audacious strokeplay. It was a typical Shaw innings, with hefty leg-side shots and blazing drives through the covers, brutal on anything that erred on the fuller or the shorter side. Gill is cut off a different cloth.
He doesn’t rely so much on power as he does on timing. He began with a flurry of gorgeous drives through covers, before expanding his canvas, unfurling one stroke after the other from his prolific repertoire, matching Shaw stroke for stroke. Only that he had little support from his colleagues and ended up on the losing side, though their respective teams crashed out.
It was an extension of a fine season, wherein he had ticked most boxes. Runs in domestic cricket; runs with the A teams, runs at home, runs abroad, runs across formats—he has undisputedly established himself as the finest of the GenNext, equipped with both technical mastery and temperamental soundness to make an impact at the international level.
Shaw has already illustrated his quality with a fine hundred on debut against the West Indies, only for his career to be stalled by injuries and a doping-ban. But he has put he travails behind him to make a sparkling return to the fold. His scores after his return read thus: 63, 30, 64, 30, 43, 248 runs at a strike rate of 170.21.
Gill’s corresponding numbers 163 runs at 142.98. Both have thus filed timely reminders of their sparkling potential, as the selectors look to find a suitable opener to pair up with Sharma in the future. Though Shikhar Dhawan is still around, his propensity to pick uncanny injuries and the waning influence in the shortest format, has made his position shaky, forcing the selectors to audition fresher faces, alongside a resurgent KL Rahul.
With the World Cup in Australia scheduled towards the end of next year, there had been an added significance to the domestic tournament.
Brief Scores: Mumbai 243/3 (Shreyas Iyer 80 not out, Suryakumar Yadav 80; Harpreet Singh Brar 2-43) beat Punjab 221/6 (Shubman Gill 78, Abhishek Sharma 47, Tushar Deshpande 2-35, Shubham Ranjane 2-40) by 22 runs.
Delhi’s campaign ends
Delhi ended their campaign in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with a two-run defeat against Rajasthan in the Super League here on Wednesday. It was Delhi’s third loss in four games, sending them out of the tournament.
Brief scores: Rajasthan 133/7 (Deepak Chahar 55 not out, Rajesh Bishnoi 36; Subodh Bhati 2-20) beat Delhi 131/9 (Rishabh Pant 30, Lalit Yadav 30; Arjit Gupta 3-12, Khaleel Ahmed 2-20) by two runs.