He’s not ruled out yet: Rohit Sharma on Shubman Gill’s fitness ahead of WC clash with Oz

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CHENNAI: India captain Rohit Sharma on Saturday said that star opener Shubman Gill has not been ruled out of the ICC World Cup opening match against Australia.

The Men in Blue will start their World Cup 2023 campaign against five-time champions Australia at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday. Gill, who has had been battling an illness, has performed credibly in recent matches and played very useful knocks.

“The mood is pretty good as it is before the start of every big tournament. We’ve come into this tournament prepared really well, so quite confident about us skill-wise”, Rohit said in a pre-match press conference on Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to the game. Everybody’s fit. Gill is not 100 per cent, he’s sick. So, there’s no injury concern. Gill is not feeling well. We are monitoring him on a daily basis. We’re going to give him every chance to recover and see how he feels. So, he’s not ruled out yet”, he added.

Rohit labelled Hardik Pandya as a proper “fast bowler” and said that playing three spinners and three seamers is a luxury.

“I don’t really consider Hardik Pandya as just a seamer. He’s a proper fast bowler who can crank up good speed. So, that gives us an advantage. That gives us that luxury of playing three spinners and three seamers as well, you know, so there’s a possibility that we can play three spinners on this pitch with three seamers as well, so it gives us that balance, gives us that number eight batting option as well. We have to come here again tomorrow afternoon and see what the pitch looks like but yeah, three spinners is definitely an option”, said the India captain.

Talking about how his dual responsibilities as a batter and captain, Rohit said 16 years of cricket has taught him how to manage things and not to let that pressure come on to the team.

“Yeah, both are different things — that is where the experience of being here for 16 years, playing the sport comes into the picture. How you handle that pressure, handle that moment during the game. The 16 years of cricket has taught me, how to go through the moments and how to handle those pressures and not to let that pressure come on to the team,” the captain said.

He said players will deal with any pressure they face. “I’m sure at certain stages of the tournament, some players will go through pressure, the teams will go through pressure, but that is where we need — character. We need a strong mentality from the players to come out and say that — OK, pressure is not leaving us, but I’m better off focusing on what I need to do for the team, rather than thinking about – there’s too much pressure. Pressure is always there”, Rohit said.

“We are Indian cricketers. We are supposed to go through pressure times and pressure situations. Everyone is very well aware of that. So, there’s no point talking about pressure, pressure, pressure because everyone knows about it because they play cricket in India. Any tournament they play, you know the pressure is always there”, he added.

Earlier, head coach Rahul Dravid had provided a major update on Shubman Gill who has been suffering from dengue, according to sources.

“He’s feeling better today than he was yesterday, so that is a positive and the medical team is monitoring on a day-to-day basis. We will see whatever decision the medical team takes and we’ll see how he feels the day after tomorrow. The medical team hadn’t ruled him out yet”, Dravid said in the pre-match press conference.

If Shubman misses out on the opener, Ishan Kishan will be the ideal choice to replace Gill and start the innings with skipper Rohit Sharma.

Kishan was initially a part of the middle-order set-up, but with him possibly shifting to the opening order, the in-form batter Suryakumar Yadav will enter the discussion of making his place in the playing XI.

Talking about Surya, Dravid said, “He’s always been a good player. It is the nature of our country, right? Two good knocks and certainly he has cracked it. It’s a question of confidence that those two knocks would have given him setting him up beautifully on the back end. He is working on certain things, he’s learning a few things. We have told him about finding other ways of scoring than his general route in T20s. He’s in a really good space in terms of his skills.”

India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav.

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith, Alex Carey, Josh Inglis, Sean Abbott, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa, Mitchell Starc. (ANI)

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