Punjab batsman Shubman Gill hasn’t looked back since he was involved in a record opening-wicket stand of 587 runs in the Punjab Inter-District U-16 tournament for the ML Markan Trophy last year. The Mohali opener, who also captains the Punjab U-16 team, has made his state proud by amassing 1,018 runs in seven matches (including five centuries and three half-centuries) in the U-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy held at Cuttack. It also enabled Punjab to claim the title by beating Madhya Pradesh in the four-day final last Friday.
Speaking to The Indian Express from Cuttack, the young opener said, “We lost the final last season to Madhya Pradesh. We wanted to beat them and win the title this time. Our hard work has paid off.’’
Shubman scored a century in each innings (109 runs and 131 runs) in the semi-final against Bengal and then hit another ton (111 runs) in the second innings of the final to propel his team to victory.
Son of an agriculturist, whose family moved from Jalalabad in Ferozepur district to Mohali eight years ago so as to enable him to become a professional cricketer, 15-year-old Shubman is touted to be the next big thing in Punjab cricket circuit. He is seen as someone who can fit into the U-19 category comfortably and can become Punjab’s flag-bearer in the coming years in junior cricket.
Taking note of Shubman’s record opening-wicket stand with Nirmal Singh last year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India had named him as the Best U-16 Cricketer of 2013-2014.
Arun Sharma, former Punjab Ranji Trophy team and also former U-19 India team selector, feels that Shubman has more potential than Punjab cricketers like Yuvraj Singh, Reetinder Sodhi and Manan Vohra had when they were this age.
Said Sharma, “He has been doing exceedingly well in the U-16 group. He could have played in the ongoing U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy for Punjab, but he is the most important cog for the U-16 team, so we could not field him in U-19 tournament. There was also a talk of introducing him at the Ranji level this season, such is his game. As he comes from a small place, there is a hunger in him to do well.’’