Shubman Gill was dismissed for 34 off 46 deliveries in the second England Test at Visakhapatnam after starting confidently. Sarah Waris, in Visakhapatnam, looks at how it was a chance floundered.

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Regarded as a generational talent, Gill scored below 40 for the 12th successive time on Friday (February 2), and is now the only India top-order batter to average below 30 after 40 innings this century. Having voluntarily switched to batting at No.3 with the emergence of Yashasvi Jaiswal last year, Gill has looked unsettled with his footwork and shot selection in the recent past. A few confident boundaries after India drew themselves into a shell in the first hour of play helped give the run rate a welcome boost but a wonderful set-up by Ben Stokes and James Anderson led to his downfall, leaving his immediate Test future hanging by a thread.

Walking in with the score on 40 after 17.2 overs following a 41-ball 14 from an “exaggeratedly cautious” Rohit Sharma, Gill started by playing on the front foot to the spinners, debutant Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley, before the batter got going with a four towards mid-wicket. While Rohit had been guilty of not using his feet on a wicket when there was little turn, Gill batted with more intent, looking to dance down the wicket against the slower bowlers while also playing the fuller balls on the back foot.

Gill scored 17 off his first 32 balls, adding 30 runs in no time with Jaiswal following Rohit’s wicket, the duo looking at ease against inexperienced spinners who preferred bowling shorter. With the slower bowlers not posing many problems, Stokes introduced James Anderson, who had shown great control in his first spell, into the attack.

Anderson had previously dismissed Gill four times in Tests with the batter averaging 7 against the veteran and his introduction was also a clever tactic by Stokes to play with the batter’s mind.

Gill was not intimidated at first, dancing down the track first ball and ending the over with a thick edge to deep third. In the next over, sent down by Bashir, Gill played the much-awaited sweep, a shot that had gained prominence in the lead-up to the Test, with KS Bharat confirming the team practised it to counter England’s spinners. Another boundary followed as he raced away to 29 off 39 as India finally broke their self-imposed shackles.

The first ball of Anderon’s seventh over was a four by Gill again, but England sense the batter’s tentativeness. He came down to athe good length ball that was pitched on the outside off, unsure of whether to defend or have a go. He ended up getting a thick edge, the ball flying wide of the first slip.

The next four balls saw Anderson set up Gill perfectly. He kept bowling a good length at the stumps, a channel that created uncertainty. Three good length balls, three tentative pokes. Anderson then changed both his line and length, sending down a wider full-length ball to Gill, who had a go with hard hands, only to see him edge it to the keeper. On commentary, it was later analysed how Stokes pushed the square leg back, making the batter assume it would be a short ball.

It was a chance lost for the talented youngster, whose spot would have been in question if India had a full squad to play with. After looking comfortable at the crease on a pitch without fearsome bounce or turn, a convoluted mindset and a brilliant piece of captaincy led to another failure for Gill who had been expected to have cracked the Test code by now.