Punjab batsman Shubman Gill hasn’t looked back since being 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. The second-highest scorer in the tournament Hrishikesh Morkar of Maharashtra made 761 runs in six games.
He was not only the top scorer in the tournament but also lead his team to the title as Punjab beat Madhya Pradesh in the four-day final by 190 runs. 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, Shubman has managed to hit over ten centuries in U-16 inter-district and inter-state matches. Just 15 years old, Shubman is seen as someone who can fit into the U-19 category comfortably and can become Punjab’s flag-bearer in the coming years.
Speaking with The Indian Express from Cuttack, the young opener said, “We lost the final last season to Madhya Pradesh. We wanted to beat them in the final this time and win the title. Our hard work has paid off. I have been working hard on my batting and fitness since the last two years. My life revolves around my family and cricket.It wasn’t easy for my family to make the shift from Jalalabad to Mohali but because of my aspirations and dreams, they left their native place.”
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 the title.
It maybe recalled that Shubman (351) was involved in that record-breaking stand with Nirmal Singh (267). While Shubman’s form has taken off, Nirmal’s has slumped. Taking note of Shubman’s joint-feat, Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) had named him as the Best U-16 Cricketer of 2013-2014. “It was an amazing experience to meet the Indian team present there at the award function, especially my hero Virat Kohli. He even congratulated and shook hands with me. Being from a small place in Punjab, it was so overwhelming for me to share the space with such greats,” Shubman who trains under coach Sukhwinder Singh Tinkoo at the Mohali Cricket Academy, said.
Arun Sharma, former Punjab Ranji Trophy team and also former U-19 India team selector feels that Shubman has shown enough potential. “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.”
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