That Shubman Gill was capable of reaching stratospheric levels of batsmanship was seldom in doubt.
On Friday, a packed Narendra Modi Stadium experienced it firsthand as he led Gujarat Titans (GT) to its second straight Indian Premier League final, against Chennai Super Kings, with a 62-run victory over Mumbai Indians (MI).
Gill’s century (129, 60b, 7×4, 10×6), his third in four innings, was T20 batting at its purest. This was especially true of the latter half of the knock. The 23-year-old took 32 balls to get to his half-century. Off the next 28, he smashed 79 to help his side reach 233 for three.
MI’s reply was off to a wretched start. Ishan Kishan didn’t come out to bat because of a concussion; Cameron Green retired hurt early on after being hit on the elbow; and Rohit Sharma was out cheaply, with Josh Little completing a fine catch at short fine-leg.
Tilak Varma injected some much-needed belief with a manic 43 (14, 5×4, 3×6), which included two elegant clipped sixes and a gorgeous cover drive. Suryakumar Yadav fought too (61, 38b, 7×4, 2×6), bringing up his half-century with a characteristic scooped six off Little.
But Mohit Sharma scalped the all-important wicket in the 15th over, rattling Suryakumar’s leg stump with nearly 80 runs needed. Two balls later, Mohit (5 for 10) excised Vishnu Vinod before Rashid Khan trapped Tim David in front to bring a swift end to MI’s resistance.
Earlier, asked to bat first after a heavy downpour had delayed the start by 30 minutes, GT plodded along in the PowerPlay, collecting 50 runs. Chris Jordan could have had Gill for 30 in the sixth over, but a diving David dropped the chance, and MI was in for a hiding.
Akash Madhwal and Piyush Chawla have been among MI’s best bowlers. But neither their form nor their pedigree mattered to Gill. In the 12th over, Madhwal was smashed for three sixes on the leg-side before Chawla was deposited over long-off, paddle hit to the boundary, and clobbered for a massive 106-metre six over deep mid-wicket. The two bled 97 runs in seven overs.
Gill hit 10 maximums in all, and the 10th was worthy of a place in the Louvre. He walked down the pitch to Green and nonchalantly slapped a rising delivery over the deep mid-wicket fence.
Gill finally fell, holing out to David at deep mid-wicket off Madhwal. But skipper Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten 28 (13b, 2×4, 2×6) ensured a gigantic total that MI couldn’t even sniff.