Seasoned Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) wrist spinner Piyush Chawla feels Shubman Gill is a special talent following the young batsman’s unbeaten 57 that helped the team beat the more-fancied Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by six wickets in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game here on Thursday.
“Before the start of the matches, during our camp…I had said that he is a special talent. Today he proved it,” Chawla told reporters at the post match press conference.
In the absence of injured Nitish Rana, Gill was promoted to No.4 in the batting order, a slot where he is more comfortable in, rather than at No.7.
Chasing 178 for victory, KKR were in control of their chase right from the outset.
When Rinku Singh was bowled in the 12th over, KKR needed 81 runs off 50 balls. Gill and skipper Dinesh Karthik (18-ball 45 not out) then joined hands for an unbroken 83-run stand for the fifth wicket to guide the team to victory with 14 balls to spare.
Gill’s 32-ball half-century was studded with six fours, three of which came inside the first six deliveries he faced.
The star of India’s U-19 World Cup winning team became fourth-youngest to score an IPL half-century, after his India Under-19 team-mate Prithvi Shaw, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant.
“Nitish was injured and he was doing well for us. We needed somebody who can graft the innings and he did exactly the same, what the team demanded from him,” Chawla said when asked about Gill being pushed up the order.
“Batting at No.7, I guess if you see the team combination, it’s a team game so team comes first,” he added.
Earlier, KKR led by West Indian mystery spinner Sunil Narine (2/20) and Kuldeep Yadav and Chawla himself, once again put pressure on CSK and did not let them score big.
A team that has gone past the 200-plus run-mark four times, were restricted to 177/5 with M.S. Dhoni’s 25-ball 43 the highlight in the end. But captain Dhoni too, struggled against spin.
“We have three spinners who have played at the highest level and have done well. It was a team thought that we might go with the spinners in the slog overs and we ended up quite well bowling with spinners in the 18th, 19th and 20 over,” said Chawla who returned figures of 2/35.
Kuldeep (1/34), Narine and Chawla bowled the 18th, 19th and 20 over respectively in the first innings.
Chawla further said that the role of wrist spinner is very important in T20 cricket, adding chinaman Kuldeep has replaced Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan efficiently.
“Previously we had Sunil, myself and Shakib (Al Hasan). Kuldeep has come in and is filling up the boots of Shakib. He is doing really well and as I said, wrist spinner plays a big role in this format and we are lucky to have two wrist spinners and the way Sunil bowls, the whole world knows that.”
KKR next take on Mumbai Indians in Mumbai and then welcome the same team at home. Chawla said although Rohit Sharma and Co. are at the foot of the points table, they can be dangerous.
“T20 is a kind of format where no team is easy. If you see Mumbai Indians they have proved it in the IPL. They are at the bottom of the table right now but these kind of teams are even more dangerous. So we have to play good cricket to come on top.”
KKR are now placed third with 10 points from nine games.