In this season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the new franchise Gujarat Titans have done exceedingly well under the tutelage of all-rounder Hardik Pandya. Till now, they have won 8 out of 11 matches and are leading the Points Table.
Pandya, 28, has led from the front and his performances have been stellar. So far, he has thumped three brisk half-centuries along with a slew of breezy cameos at critical junctures. His field placement and bowling changes have also worked splendidly well. Moreover, he seems to have the trust of his players who staunchly rally around him.
“As a person, I always make sure that I don’t like to grow just as an individual. I like to grow with my teammates or people around me. That’s the reason for our success as well. Obviously, I might be the captain, but there is no hierarchy. Everyone is on the same path – one for all and all for one. That’s the approach which we’re carrying and that is the reason I think the boys feel they are as important as the captain,” he said after Gujarat’s win over Royal Challengers Bangalore.
It is clear that Pandya is taking interest in the personal growth of his teammates and one of them is the young batting sensation Shubman Gill. If everything goes by plan, Gill will not be the first cricketer to assume captaincy at an early stage of his career.
When India shocked everyone and won the 1983 World Cup, Captain Kapil Dev was just 24 years old. More recently, Kane Williamson was appointed as the New Zealand captain in 2016 when he was just 25.
When the team management and selectors spot a spark in a youngster and the batter corroborates his pedigree with glittering performances, they start grooming him for captaincy. During MS Dhoni’s reign, Virat Kohli was visibly groomed as the next captain.
In his short international career, Gill has impressed one and all with his impregnable technique, range of shots and steadfast focus. He looks set to achieve greater heights and is being earmarked as the successor of Kohli.
Though Rohit Sharma at present has become India’s captain in all formats, he’s already 35. In a couple of years, Indian selectors will have to look at his future replacement. Gill is at the stage of his career where Kohli was in 2011.
Kohli was a dynamic and prodigiously talented, albeit a bit brash, batsman till 2011. However, after Australia’s tour in 2011-2012, where he scored his first Test hundred, Kohli matured immensely as a batsman and as an individual. He became amazingly consistent in all the formats and became a virtual run-machine. By 2012, it was evident that he was being groomed as the next captain.
Gill has also exhibited his enormous talent and there is no question about his cricketing pedigree. If he knuckles down and puts his nose to the grindstone, he may well be the next captain of Gujarat and India in a few years.
Of course, he has to take his game forward, score more runs and also pick up tactical nous from seniors around him. The spark and capability are evident; it is up to Gill to make good use of his calibre and optimise his potential.
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