Shubman Gill enjoyed phenomenal success in 2018. He was player of the tournament as India won the ICC Under 19 World Cup title and he has since followed that up with a string of big scores in first-class cricket. Gill’s tally of 1081 first-class runs at an average of close to 83, includes three hundreds and six fifties with a highest of 268. Further, he has at least one half-century in each of his eight outings.
After Punjab bundled out Bengal for 187, Gill continued his sublime form to score yet another fine 91 (119 balls). But now the 19-year-old is ready to take the big leap in 2019 and in an exclusive interview with Indian Express said that he wants to break into the Indian cricket team.
“2018 was a good year for me with a lot of new things to learn and what I am looking in 2019 is to play for India. That is the main goal for me,” revealed Gill. Recently, Punjab veteran Yuvraj Singh also backed the young prodigy to win the India cap after the 50-over World Cup later this year. “When a person like Yuvraj says something like that it means I am doing good and on the right track. It is a big boost in confidence,” said Gill.
Known for his penchant for scoring big runs, Gill expressed happiness that despite playing for India A mid-way in the Ranji season, he could come back and keep delivering for his state team.
Gill has had a memorable Ranji season so far wherein he has scored 790 runs in 10 innings at a Bradmanseque average of 98.75. His top score of 268 came against Tamil Nadu last month.
“After playing two matches I went to India A tour and then came back and continued to score. I am happy not to lose the rhythm of scoring runs,” he added.
At such a young age Gill’s biggest strength is his ability to score runs consistently. Starting from age group tournaments to senior level he has consistently let his bat do the talking.”Runs are important but more so is consistency- scoring runs back to back. Only when you score big then you get the reckoning. Then once you are in the reckoning then comes the task of carrying it forward. This is crucial,” Gill explained.
Gill, whose classical technique and purity of strokes has caught eyeballs, also said that he loves to dominate bowlers. “Since I started playing the game, I played with an attacking mindset. Free flowing batting is what I like, dominating the bowlers at the same time,” he said.
This, in turn, helps him pick the length early. “Picking the length early has helped me a lot. Then you get a lot of time to play shots. As a batsman, I like to play my shots. I am not one of those who likes to take time and then score runs. Mostly I love to dominate the bowlers and picking the length early helps me do that,” he said.
In Ranji Trophy 2018-19, Gill has amassed 665 runs in just 8 innings (5 matches) at an astonishing average of 133. The matches he has been part of were played in vastly different conditions. It has also come at times when the team needed a stable presence in the middle, such as the 148 that helped Punjab earn a draw. He rates it as his favourite innings. “That day everything was perfect- from timing the ball to my balance on the crease. Also, I almost took my team to victory,” he said.
So where does this insatiable hunger for runs come from? “My father keeps pushing me. The last day when I scored 100 he said why didn’t you score 150. So I am always looking to score more and make him happy,” the 19-year-old said.
Gill’s big-match temperament along with the sheer weight of runs does put him in contention for a national call-up. Whether the young star can follow the footsteps of his Under-19 captain Prithvi Shaw into the senior side in any format in 2019 will be interesting to see.