Ranji Trophy: Gill comes of age, shines in Punjab spotlight

Showing no signs of fatigue at the end of an unbeaten 199 which lasted 234 balls, including 21 fours and four sixes, Gill revealed his strategy of playing the ball on “merit.”

At a camp in the National Cricket Academy three years ago, Shubman Gill was marked as a batsman to watch out for by Dravid and Amol Muzumdar. (File Picture)   -  Sudhakara Jain

Tamil Nadu bowlers ran into Shubman Gill, a 19-year-old powerhouse of batsmanship. Rated a tremendous potential by the likes of Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj Singh, the right-hander produced an impeccable innings (199 batting) to place Punjab in a strong position at the end of the Ranji Trophy match at the PCA Stadium here.

In reply to Tamil Nadu’s first innings score of 215, Punjab had posted an imposing 308 for the loss of two wickets on Saturday.

Tamil Nadu, resuming at 213 for nine, folded up in an over. Thereafter, it was the Gill show. Opting out of a farming tradition, Gill pursued his love for cricket by moving to Chandigarh and has been making waves ever since.

READ| As it happened: Ranji Trophy 2018-19, Round 6, Day 2

“It was not an easy pitch,” said Gill, but he hardly produced a wrong shot, seldom appeared hustled into playing the ball, and went about scoring at will.

Showing no signs of fatigue at the end of an unfinished innings which lasted 234 balls, including 21 fours and four sixes, he revealed his strategy of playing the ball on “merit.”

The bowlers would convey a different image of Gill though. They suffered when they bowled well too because the lanky strokeplayer had all the time to plan his shots. Such was his timing that he chose to forget, just for the day, Dravid’s advice to him of keeping the ball on the ground.

Growing up in a neighbourhood close to the PCA Stadium, Gill would often be summoned to bat against the fast bowlers at various camps held here. “Yes, it helped me a lot,” remembered Gill.

No wonder, at a camp in the National Cricket Academy three years ago, he was marked as a batsman to watch out for by Dravid and Amol Muzumdar.

The youngster spoke of striking a balance between his natural game and demands of the pitch. “I am used to adapting quickly but I believe in capitalising on the bad balls at any given stage. I was prepared to tackle the good ball too. I was mentally geared up,” he described his approach – 50 off 52 balls, 100 off 106, 150 off 171 and 49 off 63.

Gill’s performance, second century in his fourth first-class match, overshadowed the disciplined half-century by skipper Mandeep Singh. The two have thus far added 180 runs for the third wicket.

At Mohali: Tamil Nadu 215 in 85 overs (Baba Aparajith 40, Vijay Shankar 71, Manpreet Singh Grewal five for 55) vs. Punjab 308 for two in 79 overs (Shubman Gill 199 batting, Mandeep Singh 50 batting).