Shubman Gill and the seamless transition to captain

Shubman Gill for GT (Image: IPL)

Rashid Khan had just dropped a catch off Noor Ahmed. Even before he could look up to his captain, Shubman Gill was there to give Rashid a pat on the back. Intense and involved, Gill as captain has been excellent to watch. He has pushed his own fielding a couple of notches higher, and taken to captaincy as if it was waiting to happen. 

Body language is most important, and that’s where Gill radiates confidence. He has been a bowlers’ captain, and at no point has he been hands off. Just after Darshan Nalkande was smashed for two sixes by Marcus Stoinis, Gill walked up to his young bowler to have a quiet word. Stoinis was caught next ball. Each time a bowler appealed, Gill was with him in a flash to check if he needed to go up for the DRS. It is this intensity that has defined his captaincy so far, and set him up for the future. 

As a batter, Gill always had class. But as a leader, IPL 2024 is seeing the making of him. While there has been much talk about Ashish Nehra and his football-style coaching, the truth is, in cricket, it is the captain who is the boss. And anyone who has seen Gill operate will know he is in control. Whether or not he will be picked for the T20 World Cup is not known. But what is certain is that Gill has added much to his leadership credentials in the first month of the IPL. With KL Rahul not doing his chances much good, and with Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant both making comebacks, Gill has added much to his chances of leading India in the future. 

What is also important is that he is enjoying captaincy. From his body language, it is evident that he is hands-on with every decision. Unlike some others who get pressured by captaincy, his own game hasn’t been impacted. If anything, his batting and fielding are both looking the part. Leading an IPL franchise isn’t easy, and more so one which won the tournament in 2022 and made the final in 2023. Yet, he hasn’t looked perturbed, and that’s the best tribute to Gill the skipper. 


We often hear the phrase ‘natural leader’, and that’s perhaps the best description for Gill. Even Rashid, much senior to Gill in international cricket, looks at his captain with a degree of reverence. Such a thing happens only if the skipper is able to earn the respect of his players. With the bat, Gill was always the go-to man for Gujarat. Now, as captain, he is the man for everything. 

The best example of Gill’s captaincy was how he handled Umesh Yadav after he had been hit for a six by Quinton De Kock. Gill was on to Yadav in a flash, to support what his bowler had tried. Yadav bowled a very similar ball next up, and De Kock skied it to third man. Gill’s reaction said it all. Yadav was pumped up, and so was his skipper. He got a slip for Umesh in the next over, and Devdutt Padikkal was out edging to that very fielder. It was as much the captain’s wicket as Yadav’s. 

At a time when much is being said about Pandya the captain, Gill has kind of flown under the radar. But from what we have seen so far, he is very much the leader India wants him to be. We’re already seeing signs that the future is golden for Gill the captain.

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