Three sixes in Madhwal over told Gill 'maybe this is my day'

The Titans hero also spelt out his gameplan: "bigger boundaries if they are bowling in good areas, look for doubles; smaller boundaries, you can take it on"

Shubman Gill's third century of the season - a 60-ball 129 - has put Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2023 final, their second appearance in the title round in just their second year in the tournament. But for someone who scored at a strike rate of 215.00, with seven fours and ten sixes, the feeling of "this is my day" came only in the 12th over of the innings, which started with him on 59 off 37, when he hit Akash Madhwal for three sixes in a 21-run over.
"For me, it's all about playing ball to ball, assessing the situation over by over," Gill said on the official broadcast after his Player-of-the-Match performance. "Maybe the over in which I hit three sixes, that's when I got the momentum to go big and I realised maybe this is my day and I have to make it big, because it is a good wicket to bat on."
Gill doesn't come across as a six-hitter - he was No. 42 in the list of six-hitters in IPL 2022 - but has become one - he has 33 sixes this year, joint-second-highest with Shivam Dube and only behind Faf du Plessis' 36. Is the change a conscious one?
"[Six-hitting] is not a conscious decision. Obviously, you keep practicing, you want to keep growing, want to keep evolving as a batsman," he said. "But I feel the belief is more important and that's what I have had this year and the last year as well."
Gill is in the middle of a purple patch. In international cricket this year, he has one Test century, three ODI centuries (including 208 against New Zealand in Hyderabad) and one T20I century, and averages 51.33, 78.00 and 40.40 in the three formats respectively. Cut to the IPL, and he has the Orange Cap now, for a total of 851 runs so far, scored at an average of 60.78 and strike rate of 156.43. And this was his third century in his last four innings.
"It helps when you are coming off a good international season with runs under the belt," he said. "With me, I know it's about starting [well]; I know once I start, I can keep going.
"Last year, from the West Indies tour, that's when I shifted gears. I got injured in 2021 leading up to the IPL and I was out for a couple of months. That's when I started realising the areas to work on and made some technical changes in my batting around December, when I was called up for the New Zealand series just after the T20 World Cup."
On Friday, Gill got to his century off the first ball of the 15th over, off 49 balls, bringing the 75,655 people at the stadium to their feet. The journey from 50 to 100 took just 17 balls.
"The first couple of overs, it [held] a bit on the surface and after that because there was not as much grass on the wicket, the ball was coming on nicely," Gill said at the halfway stage of the match. "I think also because of the outfield being a little wet [because of rain in the lead-up to the match], the ball stopped swinging after two overs and it got easier as we progressed into the innings."
Titans began a bit slow with Gill on 20 off 15 after five overs. Opening partner Wriddhiman Saha (18 off 16) and No. 3 B Sai Sudharsan (43 off 31) also found the going tough. Gill was dropped by Tim David in the last over of the powerplay when he was on 30 off 19. But he changed gears gradually, teeing off after getting to his half-century. Along with the 17 hits to the boundary, there were lots of singles and doubles at a ground where one square boundary was much shorter than the other.
"Definitely [the shorter boundary] plays a part," he said. "As a batsman, you have to be aware which side to target and you have to take on the bowlers according to that. This is something I had in mind… bigger boundaries if they are bowling in good areas, look for doubles. Smaller boundaries, you can take it on."