LSG-GT storyline has Rahul versus Gill subplot

LSG will host GT in Lucknow. (Source:

It’s a tale of two batters. They are colleagues in the Indian team but rivals in the IPL. As Lucknow Super Giants take to Gujarat Titans in Lucknow on Sunday, focus will be on KL Rahul and Shubman Gill.

Rahul and Gill bat in different positions in the Indian team. But both open for their respective franchises, Super Giants and Titans. With an eye on the upcoming T20 World Cup, somehow their fates are interlinked. If Gill is picked in India’s T20 World Cup squad, Rahul is unlikely to be included despite him having a different role and batting in a different position in international cricket. It has to be either of the two, for there will be no room for an additional batsman in the squad.

Rahul was dropped for India’s home T20I series against Afghanistan in January. The selectors had picked Jitesh Sharma and Sanju Samson as the two wicketkeeper-batters. Gill played a match against Afghanistan and scored 23 off 12 deliveries. As far as this year’s IPL is concerned, Rahul is yet to hit his straps despite scoring a half-century in Super Giants’ opening game against Rajasthan Royals. Gill, on the other hand, scored a blazing 48-ball 89 not out in Titans’ last game against Punjab Kings.

The way Rishabh Pant has been progressing after returning to competitive cricket, he looks a certainty for the T20 World Cup. If Pant is fit and firing, then he walks into any team in the world, across formats. On the face of it, Rahul’s fight is with Jitesh and Dhruv Jurel for the reserve wicketkeeper’s slot. If he is picked, he will be there as a middle-order batsman. The Super Giants captain, however, is opening for his franchise. Then again, it’s about the team composition.

Eight batting slots – Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (all-rounder), Rinku Singh, Ravindra Jadeja (all-rounder) and Pant (‘keeper-batsman) – are all but booked in India’s T20 World Cup squad. Over the last one year, the national selectors and the Indian team management have invested in Jitesh, giving him a greater chance to make the squad, at the expense of Rahul. Even as a middle-order batsman, Rahul doesn’t fit into the role of a finisher. Gill, the Titans captain, can easily fit in as a reserve opener.

Both Rohit and Kohli were brought back to India’s T20I fold for the series against Afghanistan. BCCI secretary Jay Shah has already confirmed that Rohit will be India’s captain at the ICC event in the United States and the West Indies. Bringing back Kohli for the Afghanistan series dropped a big enough hint that he would be going to the T20 World Cup as well. Once both are picked, it becomes difficult to include Rahul in the same team, for his strike-rate is an impediment.

Rahul’s career T20Is strike-rate is 139.12 compared to Gill’s 147.57. Still early days in this IPL, but Rahul so far has scored 93 runs in three matches at a strike-rate of 138.8, opening the innings. Gill, meanwhile, has scored 164 runs in four matches at a strike-rate of 159.22. Super Giants haven’t yet beaten Titans in the IPL (head-to-head 4-0 in favour of GT) and Rahul will be keen to up the ante to contribute to his team’s cause.

Gill will look to pick up where he left off against Punjab Kings. The game between Super Giants and Titans is the storyline. The Rahul-Gill battle offers a nice subplot.

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