Former New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris believes Shubman Gill is KKR’s best batsman and feels there is an added responsibility on the youngster’s shoulder due to the batting unit revolving around him. Styris further raised concern about KKR’s bench strength, but backed them to finish 3rd.
Thanks to the name he made for himself through his performances in both the domestic circuit and the U19 World Cup, there was considerable buzz surrounding Shubman Gill after he was snapped up by KKR ahead of IPL 2018. But the presence of both Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine up top meant that the youngster had to settle for a position down the order, where he wasn’t able to shine. That changed towards the back-end of the 2019 season as after finally being promoted to the opening slot, the sensational Punjab batsman racked up two fifties in three games, including a career-best 76 versus Mumbai.
With Lynn having departed, Gill is all set to get his rightful run as an opener this season, and ahead of his side’s season-opener versus Mumbai Indians on Wednesday, Cricketer-turned-expert Scott Styris lavished praise on the 21-year-old. Styris labelled Gill as KKR’s best batsman, but opined that the youngster will have added responsibility on his shoulders due to him being the fulcrum of a strong batting unit.
"Shubhman Gill, now with the loss of Robin and Gautam Gambhir at KKR, is now a leader, the focal point of that batting unit. He is the best batsman of KKR,” Styris said on Star Sports’ ‘Game Plan’, reported TOI.
“So there's a lot more responsibility on Gill that you don't see with a lot of those other youngsters and that maybe the only thing that holds him down. Just looked great and he has played great, but he has got the extra responsibility that some of those other players don't (have).”
Styris further said that there’s a lot to like about the exciting KKR unit, but raised his concerns about the thin bench-strength. The former Kiwi cricketer noted that, in contrast to the bowling, KKR had a thin batting-unit but, nevertheless, backed them to finish in the top four.
"I've got KKR sitting there in third place (but) I think they're quite thin and the thinness comes from the batting unit. There's so much talent with the bowling, we (are) still looking forward to seeing Shivam Mavi and Nagarkoti bowling together from what two seasons ago, when India won the under 19 World Cup.
"There is Ferguson, Cummins, and Andre Russell, a pace bowling (unit) that can take care of anybody. But they never seem to get everybody on the park, and they get a couple of injuries. I worry about the bench strength. They've got a great coach, Brendon McCullum, coming off with a title with TKR at CPL with some of those players as well. So there's a lot to like about this team."
Another former cricketer, Brett Lee, on the same show, wanted Kuldeep Yadav to bowl more freely and aggressively this season. Kuldeep had a horror IPL 2019, where he picked just 4 wickets in 9 games at a hideous economy rate of 8.66.
"When Kuldeep Yadav is in form, you have got a very successful side. He has got beautiful variations, spins the ball both ways, good in the field as well and he brings those dynamics to the team.
"I want to see him more aggressive and back himself, and confidence is the key. If he gets hit for a six, move it away and get back to your channels and he can turn it around for KKR to have a big season," said Lee.