When agriculturist Lakhwinder Singh Gill shifted to Mohali with his family from his native village of Chak Khehrewala in Ferozepur district of Punjab in 2007, it was a tough decision for him. Around 12 years later, it is an emotional as well as a proud moment for him as his 19-year-old son Shubman Gill, along with Vijay Shankar, has been named as replacements for Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul in the Indian cricket team for the upcoming New Zealand tour to be played later this month.
“We shifted to Mohali in April 2007 to support Shubman’s cricketing career. He started playing when he was not even four and as his interest grew in the sport, we wanted to support him in whatever way we could. Shubman joined Mohali Cricket Association (MCA) academy near I S Bindra PCA Stadium and today’s selection is the reward for all the hard work. He woke me and my wife Keart up last night and gave the news about his selection. We are thankful to god for making this happen,” said Lakhwinder Singh who would spend hours watching Shubman practice at the Mohali Cricket Association nets.
Shubman had first hogged limelight when he made a world-record 587-run partnership with Nirmal Singh in Punjab and scored 351 runs in Punjab U-16 tournament. The last two years have seen Shubman playing for India U-19 teams and India A sides. The youngster was named the man of the tournament in ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand, where he scored 372 runs in six matches and was the second-highest scorer.
Shubman’s long-time teammate and best friend Khushpreet Singh was also at the Gill home in Mohali to celebrate his inclusion in the Indian team. “Shubman is four years younger to me and we were neighbours in Phase IX. We started training together at MCA academy and would spend training there before and after our school. While I had to leave cricket for some time due to an injury, Shubman always showed his passion for the sport and played with confidence. He has displayed his best form in the last two years and the selection for the Indian team feels special for the whole family and friends,” said Khushpreet whom Shubman calls his elder brother.
In his second Ranji Trophy season, Shubman has scored two centuries including a doubleton and two half-centuries.
R P Singla, Honorary Secretary of Punjab Cricket Association, sees Shubman as a special talent and believes that the call has come at a right time for the youngster.
“Shubman has shown tremendous form over the last two years and his double hundred against Tamil Nadu was a special innings. It is a big day for Punjab cricket too and a lot of youngsters will be inspired from a player like Shubman,” said Singla, a former Ranji Trophy player too.