Shubman Gill, leading India in the five-match T20I series against Zimbabwe, has confirmed that he will open the batting alongside his Punjab teammate, Abhishek Sharma. Ruturaj Gaikwad will take the number three position in the first game at Harare Sports Club on Saturday. As India and Sri Lanka gear up to co-host the next T20 World Cup in 2026, these T20Is in Zimbabwe kick off a new two-year journey for the reigning world champions in this format.

Gill expressed his excitement about the series, stating, “Abhishek will be my opening partner, with Ruturaj at number three. Rohit bhai and Virat bhai opened in the World Cup, and I also open in the T20s. So, I prefer to open in the T20s.”

Gill, along with debutant Abhishek, aims to fill the gap left by the T20I retirements of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli following India’s T20 World Cup triumph in Barbados. Acknowledging the pressure, Gill highlighted the importance of setting personal goals. “What Rohit bhai and Virat bhai have accomplished is incredible. There’s always pressure to perform, but trying to match their level of achievement only increases that pressure. They are legends and idols of Indian cricket,” he said.

He emphasized that the revamped team is focused on delivering strong performances in Zimbabwe. “There’s always pressure in any match because you want to do well. This isn’t just the start of a new cycle; there’s a genuine desire to succeed as a team,” Gill remarked.

In addition to Abhishek, the squad features newcomers Riyan Parag, Dhruv Jurel, Tushar Deshpande, B. Sai Sudarshan, and Harshit Rana (for the first two matches), with VVS Laxman serving as the head coach. Gill expressed excitement about the new players, saying, “It’s always thrilling to see fresh faces making their debut and doing well. Our goal is to give them international exposure and experience.”

Discussing the challenges posed by Harare’s conditions, Gill expressed confidence in the team’s preparation. “The conditions will be challenging, but we’ve been practicing here for a few days. Some players have prior experience here, so it should be a good series,” he said.

He acknowledged Zimbabwe’s strong T20 team, recalling their competitive ODIs in 2022. ” Zimbabwe has a strong T20 team, and we recognize they will pose a significant challenge. We aren’t taking them lightly,” he added.

This series marks Gill’s debut as India’s captain at the international level. He believes his experience leading Gujarat Titans in IPL 2024 will be valuable. “I learned a lot about leadership and myself when I captained my IPL team. The biggest challenges are mental, like preparing the boys and giving them the confidence to deliver their skills on the field,” Gill concluded.

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