Elated Shubman Gill eager to go out there and express himself

Shubman Gill, the 19-year-old batsman from Mohali, is pleased to find himself selected for India’s tour of New Zealand.

Ready to shine: Shubman Gill has had a steady rise in his career since the U-19 World Cup in 2018.   -  PTI

Around this time last year, Shubman Gill was travelling to New Zealand for the U-19 World Cup. He was a bit anxious about how the tournament would pan out for him. Eventually, he emerged as the Player of the Tournament.

A year on, Gill is set to travel to New Zealand again, this time with the senior national team!

Gill and Tamil Nadu’s Vijay Shankar were selected by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) as replacements for the suspended Hardik Pandya and K. L. Rahul. While Vijay flies out to Australia on Sunday night, Gill is set to join the team directly in New Zealand later this month.

A good start

Gill is excited about the opportunity. “It (2018) was a fantastic year for me. It started off with the U-19 World Cup and then the [Indian Premier League] and that was followed by the India U-19 matches. It ended with a good Ranji Trophy season and a new year could not have started on a better note,” Gill told Sportstar on Sunday.

For Gill, the rise has been gradual. After the U-19 feat, he was purchased by Kolkata Knight Riders for the IPL. In a new format, he was sent to bat lower down the order, and at No. 7, Gill proved his mettle for the outfit. There hasn’t been any looking back since.

Gill was also part of the India A side — shepherded by head coach Rahul Dravid — which toured New Zealand last month, and the experience of playing in known conditions will help the talented youngster. “The conditions should help me. I have a fair idea about it,” he said.

Guidance by Rahul Dravid

Gill has been guided by Dravid for the last two years — first in the U-19s, then with India A. “Rahul sir has been with me for two years so he knows the kind of game I play. He knows every bit of it, and if there’s something odd, he tells me and I work on those areas,” Gill said.

Run machine: Shubman Gill scored 790 runs in 10 innings for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy this season. Photo: V. V. Subrahmanyam

 

That has paid rich dividends.

Having followed Dravid’s advice, Gill amassed 790 runs in 10 innings for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy. The success has boosted his confidence. “There has not been any particular thing that has helped me. One thing led to the other, and that’s how things have been,” he said.

‘Fantastic feeling’

While he knew the India call-up could come his way, Gill did not realise it will come so soon. He was about to sleep in the early hours of Sunday when the BCCI — at 12.52 am — announced his selection via a communique. “I got a storm of messages from journalists about my call-up. Then, I checked the message and found out that it was actually true. I told my father, who was sleeping in the next room, about it. It was a fantastic feeling,” he said.

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Gill hopes to make it to the final XI. “The only goal is to go there and express myself. I want to show the skills I have practised for all these years. So far, backing my natural game has helped, and that’s something I would bank on,” he said.

Sunday was a particularly special day for Gill on another front. After the intimation from the Board, Gill also received a special text message. It came from Dravid. The small message perhaps had everything to motivate the youngster ahead of the big tour: “Congratulations. Trust your game.”