Level-headed teen star

Level-headed teen star


Shubman Gill’s cover drive has been compared to none other than the irrepressible Virat Kohli by many critics. PTI

An interesting social media post by Shubman Gill says ‘it’s all about 10 per cent of what happens to you and 90 per cent of how you react to it.’ As someone who has made heads turn with his growing success in all formats of the game, it appears like Gill has made the above mentioned line as his mantra for success.

“I calculate the situations and take certain amount of risks required. It’s important to know when to be aggressive and when to be smart and see through some tough bowling spells,” says the right-handed batsman from Punjab.

Talking to Gill, one gets a feeling that he is mature beyond his age of 19 years. It shines through the way he bats. For instance, right after India’s U-19 title-winning campaign in New Zealand, where he bagged the player of the tournament award, Gill immediately joined the Punjab side for the Vijay Hazare Trophy. 

Gill shut out all the hype around him and was a picture of great temperament and skill en route to his splendid century against a quality Karnataka attack last year. “I didn’t think of the high of the U-19 World Cup title. I want to keep calm and remain in the present,” he had said then, giving a hint of his level-headed attitude.

It’s been an incredible past few months for Gill. Playing for India ‘A’, he slammed an unbeaten 204 against the West Indies ‘A’ at the Brian Lara stadium in Trinidad earlier this month to become India’s youngest double centurion at the first-class level. He extended his red-hot form to the one-day series, accumulating 218 runs with three half-centuries to be the top-run getter for India ‘A’.

Apart from getting familiar to the conditions, Gill speaks of the challenges while playing outside India. “Sometimes, the practice pitches aren’t great. The facilities to prepare aren’t as good as we see in India. So before tours, our practice might not be up to the mark. You don’t feel like you have batted well on those wickets. In such situations, it’s important to stay positive and trust your game.”

A strong off-side player, Gill drives with audacity. He is also not afraid to execute pull shots. His cover drive that he essays with finesse has forced the pundits to draw comparisons with Indian skipper Virat Kohli. His exploits for India U-19 garnered praise from many former cricketers. “I like Shubman Gill a lot. I saw him when he scored a couple of hundreds in the U-19 ODIs against England. He played really well in the series,” former England batsman Mark Ramprakash had complimented the youngster.

Despite being naturally aggressive, Gill firmly believes in refraining from ‘fancy’ shots. His clean hitting is backed by solid technique. And this risk-free approach has given him the desired numbers so far. In 12 first-class games, he has amassed 1339 runs with four tons and seven half-centuries at a staggering average of 78.76. The lanky lad has scored 1942 runs from 47 List A games, smashing five centuries and 10 half-centuries.

In a memorable 2018, Gill made 728 runs in five matches in the Ranji Trophy at an average of 104.00. His wait for an IPL debut ended when he bagged a deal with Kolkata Knight Riders. And soon, the most important India call-up became a reality in Gill’s career. “I was very excited and too nervous as well. When the team was announced, I was thrilled,” says Gill of his selection for India’s limited-overs series against hosts New Zealand.

Across all three formats, he has nine hundreds, including two double tons. Gill explains his penchant for big knocks. “I have played a lot of days cricket during my age group days. Since then, my mindset has always been to carry on once I reach 100. I always want to take it forward and make a big one. I tell myself not to lose concentration and play a poor shot. This habit has stayed with me,” says Gill, a winner of the BCCI Best Junior Cricketer award for two straight years (2013-14, 14-15).

Success has come too quickly for Gill. To remain relevant in the long run, he needs a strong support system. Apart from thanking former India ‘A’ and U-19 coach Rahul Dravid, Gill speaks highly on the roles of former India batsman Yuvraj Singh and his father Lakhwinder Singh.

“Yuvraj has been there throughout my journey. I have been fortunate to have him on my side. When you receive fame, good guidance becomes important. A couple of years back, he told me not to sign any contracts or endorsements. He just asked me to only concentrate on playing,” says Gill, who is currently leading India Blue in Duleep Trophy.

Gill calls his father a great coach. “He is my first coach. One thing special about him is he doesn’t stress too much on changing my technique. He keeps it simple. He tells me about how to bat in different scenarios. He has taught me how to survive some tough spells.”

His marauding run notwithstanding, he failed to make the bus for India’s tour of the West Indies. Gill confessed he was disappointed by the snub. But he has also learnt that cricket is a tough game.

“We all know that there are more bad days than good in cricket. Failure or the waiting game would hurt me a lot before. In case I struggled to get runs, I used to think a lot. But I have changed in the last two years. I am aware that every player undergoes ups and downs. It’s important for me to keep scoring when I am in good touch,” he concludes.

Following an exciting start, Gill has raised immense expectations. With his head firmly on his shoulders, the youngster has shown he can live up to the promise.