Another action-packed cricketing year nears its end another couple of hours. Team India did have their near misses in two heartbreaking finals – WTC and the ODI World Cup – which prolonged their wait for an ICC trophy since 2013, but the side also have their moment in the sun as well with the Asia Cup trophy haul. And before 2024 kicks off with lot of promise and hope, former India cricketers Sunil Gavaskar and Irfan Pathan picked their best performer from the Indian side in 2023 and the breakout star as well.
Shubman Gill was the common choice for the two as they revealed it during their conversation on Star Sports on Sunday. The youngster emerged as the leading run-getter in 2023, scoring 2154 runs in 48 matches across formats, laced with seven boundaries and 10 fifties. 1584 of those runs were scored in ODI cricket where he averaged 63.36 in 29 games, hitting five hundreds, including a double ton, and and nine fifties.
Gavaskar feels that although Gill lost his rhythm in Test cricket towards the close of the calendar year, he was exception in white-ball cricket throughout.
“It will be for how he batted in all formats in international cricket. He was unstoppable at the start but tapered off towards the end in Tests, although his performances in ODIs and T20Is were exceptional,” he said.
Pathan too was all praise for Gill, who is considers as the “future of Indian cricket” and feels he could soon emerge as a captaincy candidate as well.
“The year he had, especially in one-day cricket…for a young player, who is probably the future of Indian cricket, and he has a future in leadership. He was on a century spree this year, his average has been exceptional, and ODI cricket seems to be the perfect format for him,” he added.
Gavaskar and Pathan were also given the task of picking the best performer from 2023 and both named Gill, yet again, alongside Mohammed Shami, who produced a stellar show in the World Cup, picking 24 wickets in seven innings, the most by a player in the tournament, with record three five-wicket hauls.
“There are plenty of contenders. Gill himself, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj, for the way he bowled in the Asia Cup final, the comeback of Jasprit Bumrah and the absolutely incredible batting from Virat Kohli in the World Cup where he scored three centuries and five fifties,” said Gavaskar.
The former India all-rounder added KL Rahul to his list as well for the superb comeback he made post his injury return in September.
“Gill’s name has to be there. Then there is KL Rahul, who averaged over 70 in ODIs this year after returning from injury and also picked up wicketkeeping duties across formats. Not to forget, that century in Centurion from Rahul, which will be remembered for ages. Third is Shami, who was bowling first-change and the sort of comeback he made,” he said.