It seems like just yesterday a classy 18-year-old right-handed batsman (batsboy) upstaged captain and star Prithvi Shaw at the 2018 ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand. The young Indian team dominated the tournament the way Australia dominated cricket for a decade – they were far and away the best side, bullying their way to the World Cup title. While Shaw, on whom everyone’s eyes have been since his prodigious school-cricket days, made his international Test debut as an opener within 8 months of the title, fellow cricket player Gill continued to set senior Ranji cricket ablaze in his debut season for Punjab. In no way has he been “fast-tracked” without first-class cricket; Gill has earned a call-up early because he has made it impossible for the selectors to ignore his obvious talent in just 9 games.
Today, Shubman Gill, all of 19, is part of the senior Indian limited-overs squad traveling to New Zealand in less than a week. If all goes well, he will make his international ODI debut before an injured Shaw, less than a year after both the batsmen arrested imaginations in IPL 2018. Gill didn’t get as many opportunities, batting as low as 6 in an all-around team, but he smartly finished a few innings against teams like CSK, which prompted veterans such as Dinesh Karthik to mark him out as a future superstar.
Here are a few tidbits about India’s latest batting star, a boy who could well seal his place for the World Cup in England if he impresses in New Zealand. After Shaw and Pant, it’s now Gill’s turn:
– Gill has scored 1089 runs in first-class cricket for Punjab in his debut season. This includes 728 Ranji Trophy runs in 5 matches.
– His highest score is 268 against Tamil Nadu last month. But his most impressive innings came a week later against Hyderabad when he scored 148 off 154 balls to almost help Punjab chase down 338 off 57 overs on the final day. It ended in a draw.
– Gill was the Man of the Series at the U-19 World Cup, scoring 418 runs at a stunning average of 104. His century in the semi-final against Pakistan was widely considered the finest innings of the tournament.
– Gill was bought for INR 1.8 crore by KKR for IPL 2018, where he batted in the middle order in a star-studded lineup. His 57* against eventual champions CSK, his first IPL fifty, established him as a rising star.
– Gill was born in September 1999, only a few months after India crashed out of the ICC World Cup the last time it was held in England. Rahul Dravid was the top scorer of that World Cup, a man who would incidentally coach Gill during his stint with the U-19 and “A” side almost two decades later.
– Shubman Gill’s favorite position is in the top 3, but he might be required to bat at 4 (in place of Ambati Rayadu) if chosen in the Indian ODI team in New Zealand. Unless, of course, one of Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan gets injured.
– Gill’s idol is Virat Kohli, a man who will now be his captain over the next month.
– Gill’s favorite international performance in recent times was Cheteshwar Pujara’s mammoth 1258-ball stay at the crease over the 4 Test matches of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Not the 521 runs he scored, the “time” he played, which Gill, who is an otherwise attacking batsman, wants to emulate in the longest form of the game.