Growing up, Shubman Gill dreamed of playing for India. Hailing from the village of Chak Khehrewala in Ferozepur district of Punjab, a young Shubman would collect posters of Sachin Tendulkar and idolise his style of batting.
He was barely five or six years old then, and every time Tendulkar would bat, the youngster would be glued to the television set. Back in those days, not many would have thought, Shubman will actually live his dream – donning the India colours.
But ever since breaking into the Indian team a couple of years ago, Shubman has slowly and steadily stamped his class – as a genuine opener. While he made his ODI debut against New Zealand in January, 2019, the 21-year-old had to wait longer before breaking into the Test side.
And as the opportunity came in the series against Australia, Shubman proved his worth, amassing 265 in three Tests. Even though he could not convert the good starts into big scores in the first couple of outings, the young gun’s 91 in Brisbane on Tuesday guided India to a series win against Australia.
While it was an incredible moment for Gill, his mentor and former India all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, remembers those days when he would work with Shubman to make him ready for the tour of Australia.
A few months ago, Yuvraj had long sessions with Shubman and a few other Punjab cricketers. “The aim was obviously (to prepare for) the Australia series. To work on the short ball and defence. Only good defence helps you against quality fast bowlers,” Yuvraj told Sportstar.
During the training, Yuvraj also made Shubman speak to his ‘childhood hero’ Tendulkar – who suggested a few things.
“I got him to speak to Sachin Tendulkar, who also stressed on developing a good defence to survive on challenging pitches. Front-foot defence and tackling swing were also the areas we worked on,” Yuvraj said.
Yuvraj Singh having a chat with Shubman Gill and other youngsters of the Punjab team during a training session. – Special Arrangement
Having observed Shubman closely, Yuvraj is happy with the way the youngster has developed himself. “He has been with the team for a year now and that has prepared him well. He was ready for the Australia tour, and he looked solid as an opener.”
Faring well against England
Shubman’s batting show has been one of the highlights of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and Yuvraj expects his ward to put up a fine show in the home series against England.
“He is in a good position in the team. The skills were always there but now he will have the confidence. The fear of failure is gone, and he can perform in any part of the world. I expect him to grow in the series against England,” Yuvraj said.
The four-match Test series against England begins in Chennai from February 5 and like any other member of the Indian team, even Shubman wants to keep the momentum going.
The rise as a batsman
While his stints with Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League made him a household name, it hasn’t been an easy journey for the swashbuckling batsman.
His father and first coach, Lakhwinder Singh Gill, had to shift to Chandigarh from their native village of Chak Khehrewala in Ferozepur district of Punjab in 2007 to support his cricketing career. While the family battled all the odds to support him in a new city, Shubman first hogged the limelight with a world-record 587-run partnership with Nirmal Singh and scored 351 runs in an U-16 tournament in Punjab. Soon, he was drafted into the Punjab U-19 team.
A few years later, the youngster was picked for India’s U-19 and A teams and was named the man of the tournament in ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand in 2018, where he scored 372 runs. That tournament not only gave Shubman the fame, but also paved the way for a bright future.
Over the last few years, the youngster has worked relentlessly to improve on his batting and fitness and during a tour game against Australia A in November last year, the legendary Allan Border, too, was impressed with Shubman’s style of play.
From collecting posters of cricketers to earning praises from some of the biggest names of world cricket – Shubman, certainly, has come a long way!