Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Sunday kept their playoffs hopes alive after defeating old rivals Mumbai Indians (MI) at the Eden Gardens Stadium in Kolkata. Coming into this must-win game on the back of six consecutive defeats, KKR were staring at elimination when Gill — opening the batting for the second game in a row — cracked a sublime 76 off 45 balls to guide the team to 232/2, this season’s highest total.
19-year-old Gill feels his knock under pressure against Mumbai Indians (MI) on Sunday is one of his best in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Along with Andre Russell, who smashed a typically explosive 40-ball 80 not out after being promoted to No.3, 19-year-old Gill was instrumental in aiding the triumph.
“I think considering the situation, this is one of the best innings of mine in this IPL,” Gill told reporters at the post-match press conference.
Gill said he is happy to bat wherever the team asks him to and wants to cash in on every opportunity.
“I’m happy to get a chance and capitalise on that,” said Gill who has batted lower down the order more often than not for KKR both this season and last year.
“We do all kinds of practice in various conditions. It was all about the mindset,” he said when asked about his mental frame when batting at different positions.
The 2018 U-19 World Cup winner credited the Indian domestic cricket circuit for preparing youngsters like him for bigger competitions like the IPL.
“Credit goes to our domestic cricket. We play so many matches at different levels. You start to gain confidence by doing well. I know I don’t have to prove again. So when you’re in a big league like IPL, you know you don’t have to prove anyone. I’ve already proved myself there. It’s all about continuing that,” said Gill who scored his second fifty this season.
Asked whether he is harbouring thoughts of cementing his place in the Indian team after playing in two ODIs in New Zealand earlier this year, Gill said: “I don’t think so far ahead. It’s about doing well and capitalising on whatever opportunities I get.”
Among the six fours and four sixes Gill hit, a cover drive off Jasprit Bumrah and a clip past short fine leg off Lasith Malinga stood out.
“Those were instinctive shots. We practice hard at nets, it’s about executing them,” Gill said of them.
KKR went in with an extra batsman for the Mumbai match, bringing back experienced Robin Uthappa. Gill said he went all guns blazing after Chris Lynn got out as he knew there were back-up options.
“We were going in with an extra batsman in Robin bhaiya. So it was about going aggressive as we had back-up options. The support was important. We had lost six matches in a row so it was about returning to winning ways and carry on that run till the final.”
On his 62-run second wicket stand with Russell, Gill said: “I was set when Russell came in to bat. They were employing spinners after Lynn got out. So we decided that I take on the spinners. Then he will take chances after getting set. Setting up a good partnership was our priority at that stage.”
Gill also spoke about Hardik Pandya’s breathtaking 34-ball 91. “It was pure clean hitting and a chanceless knock by Hardik,” he said.