Shubman Gill is the latest prodigy of India’s familial batting production line. He shot to fame with 418 runs at an average of 104.50 in the 2018 ICC U19 World Cup, where he served as Prithv…
Shubman Gill is the latest prodigy of India’s familial batting production line. He shot to fame with 418 runs at an average of 104.50 in the 2018 ICC U19 World Cup, where he served as Prithvi Shaw’s deputy and batted at No. 3 to play a crucial role in India’s record fourth world title. Also the edition’s Player of the Tournament, Gill was a favourite in the 2018 IPL auctions and was picked by Kolkata Knight Riders for INR 1.8 crore (USD 280,000).
Born in Fazilka, Punjab, Gill’s precocious talents found an early fan in his father, Lakhwinder Singh, who shifted base to Mohali and rented a place near the PCA Stadium so that his son could grow up with better access to cricket. And it wasn’t long until Gill started grabbing headlines. He scored 351 in Punjab’s Inter-District U16 tournament in 2014, racking up an opening stand of 587 with Nirmal Singh, and then went on to strike a double hundred in his U16 debut for Punjab at the 2016 Vijay Merchant Trophy.
Gill made his List A debut for Punjab in the 2016-17 Vijay Hazare Trophy, batting one-down, and went on to make his first-class debut in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy against Bengal, where he batted as an opener to score his maiden half-century and stepped it up in just the next game with a maiden hundred against Services.
Gill won the BCCI award for the Best Junior Cricketer for consecutive years in 2013-14 and 2014-15, knocking hard on the doors of the U19 team. When picked, Gill starred in India’s handsome 3-1 win at home over England in the Youth ODIs, scoring 351 runs in 4 innings and then went on to match up to his high standards in his first tour of England soon after. India whitewashed the hosts 5-0 and Gill top-scored again with 278 runs across 4 innings.
Gill easily looked the best batsman among his colleagues at the World Cup, comfortably overhauling even Prithvi Shaw, the 18-year-old Mumbai batsman who had the media houses buzzing with a whooping five first-class hundreds to his name. Gill’s bottom-handed technique, made fashionably successful by Virat Kohli among many others, allowed him to play in a similar mould. He scored runs briskly, mixing quick singles and doubles with powerful hits across the ground, and stood out as much for his batting acumen as he did for his fielding prowess.
Once back from the World Cup in New Zealand, Gill soon found himself returning to the unglamorous grind, representing Punjab in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He started the tournament with modest scores of 25, 4 and 8 but soon recovered, flaying a match-winning 123 against a rampant Karnataka side.
Strong showings in the 2018-19 domestic season meant that Gill was seamlessly transitioning into being a senior India player. He even looked unnerved on the big stage of the IPL, despite batting out of position for the Kolkata Knight Riders. 2019 has turned out to be a potential career-turning year for the
Punjab youngster who first got picked for the ODIs in New Zealand where he also made his international debut.
With India facing the eternal number-four issue, many felt Gill would be punted with the World Cup not far away but after a handful of games (that too on extremely tough surfaces), he found himself out of the squad. Of course, the selectors and he himself knew that age is on his side and that his time would come. In the 2019 IPL, he batted in the top order and on expected lines, managed to create a bigger impact. However, it’s his exploits in red-ball cricket that’s convinced people of his completeness as a batsman. By churning out runs for fun in his brief First-class career thus far, Gill has now staked a claim for a spot across formats and has rightly been picked as a back-up opener for the home Tests against South Africa
Although it’s still early days, Gill’s heady mix of passion, hard work and genius promises to cultivate a career that should serve Indian cricket well in the times to come. Until then, it’s a nervous wait time for Gill and the many observers of cricket.