Shubman Gill: 'It only takes a fraction of a second to lose your way'

Shubman Gill credits his parents for the way they have brought him up.

Shubman Gill won the Emerging Player of the Season Award for IPL 2019.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Earlier this year, when Shubman Gill joined up with the Indian senior team in New Zealand, Virat Kohli was asked what he thought of the teenager. “Shubman is a very exciting talent,” he said. “I saw him bat in the nets and I was like, wow I was not even 10 per cent of that when I was 19." Gill smiles when reminded of the Indian captain’s praise for him. “It makes you feel really good but I think he was being very generous, really kind with his words,” he says, on the eve of India-A’s second one-day match against Sri Lanka-A at the KSCA Stadium here.

Gill endured a difficult senior debut on that New Zealand tour, making scores of nine and seven in the two ODIs he played. But that call-up, as a short-term replacement for K. L. Rahul, was a sign that he was in the selectors’ thoughts. “It was a great feeling to represent the country,” he says. “I wasn't expecting the call but I had had a good Ranji Trophy season, so I wasn't really surprised. Conditions were different (in New Zealand) but it was not as if the bowling was something I hadn't faced before. Because of the 'A' tours and the IPL, that margin has decreased.”

In the immediate aftermath of India’s victory in the 2018 U-19 World Cup, there was predictably a clamour to fast-track Gill and Prithvi Shaw – two of the tournament’s stars – into the senior team. But Gill says his focus has always been on the present. “You have to be patient. You don't get picked after one good performance. You have to keep doing it season after season. I'm well aware of the fact that not everyone who does well at U19 level is guaranteed to do well at the senior level.”

It is easy, Gill admits, to get carried away by all the fame and attention. “How much time does it take to lose your way? It takes years to develop good habits and only a fraction of a second to go off-track. Credit goes to my parents for how they have brought me up. It's easy to get off-balance, but you have to keep working hard,” he says.

Last season, Gill aggregated 728 runs for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy, with a top score of 268 against Tamil Nadu. He is hungry for big runs in first-class cricket, he states. “When I was growing up, I used to score big hundreds in multi-day cricket at the U-14 and 16 levels. I want to do that continuously in the Ranji Trophy. If you're not doing well in first-class cricket, I don't think you'll get picked for India.”

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