NEW DELHI: Opener Shubman Gill, who struggled against Pakistan’s formidable pace trio during his painstaking 32-ball 10 in the group stage Asia Cup match, admitted that rare encounters against the likes of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf make a ‘difference’ during multi-nation events.
Indian top-order batters have had their issues with Afridi’s deceptive nip-backers and the unorthodox angles he consistently generates. The challenge primarily stems from the limited exposure to facing such bowlers, regardless of having studied countless videos of their bowling performances.
“We don’t play against Pakistan as often as we do against some other teams. We all know that their bowling attack is quite good and when you don’t play against such attacks often it makes a bit of difference in main tournaments,” Gill was frank in his admission that life has indeed been a bit difficult against the troika of speed merchants.
India get to play Pakistan only during Asia Cup or at the ICC events.
Gill said that he was also banking on the left-arm throw-down specialist Nuwan Seneviratne to dish out an improved show against Afridi, and in general against Pakistan quicks.
“Definitely (training has helped). He (Nuwan) has been travelling with us for the last 7-8 years. It is nice to have that variation. We have that right-arm specialist (Raghu), the side-arm specialist (Dayannd Garani) and the left-arm specialist. It does help in any conditions that you play,” added Gill.
Gill then explained why the Pakistan fast bowlers are making such an impact.
“They are very different fast bowlers and they have their own specialities. Shaheen gets the ball to swing a lot. Naseem is all about pace and likes help from the wicket. They present different challenges in different conditions,” said Gill.
Gill said that Indian batters will have to dominate unlike last time when the top order was blown away for 66.
“As openers, we need to make a good start and dominate them from the beginning,” Gill said.
In that context, Gill said his partnership with captain Rohit Sharma could be crucial.
“He (Rohit) is someone who likes to take on the bowlers more aerially and I like playing along the ground in the power play. That combination works well for us. We both are a bit different, how we go about our shots and tackle the situations. That makes it a bit difficult for opposition to contain us,” said Gill.
With his fast in-swinging deliveries, Afridi will be a big threat for India. The left-arm pacer had evicted Rohit and Virat Kohli in the league match to rock India’s top-order.
However, Gill denied that there was any extra pressure on the team just because they are playing Pakistan. Though he admitted the whole atmosphere was different from playing other teams.
“It was my first time against Pakistan in senior cricket (Asia Cup league match). The pressure is slightly different (from other matches).
“But the pressure will be there no matter what game you play — whether it is against Afghanistan, Netherlands or Pakistan. We have the same level of nerves no matter what,” he added.
Gill also revealed that he has only admiration for Pakistan captain Babar Azam.
“You obviously look at him. You have to see his videos to learn why he’s doing so well. He is a world class player and we also admire him a lot,” said Gill.
(With inputs from PTI)

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