During the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand last year, Shubman Gill had impressed one and all with his stellar batting show. He had finished the showpiece event with 372 runs and was adjudged Player of the 2018 U-19 World Cup, which the Boys in Blue clinched by beating Australia in the final.
Apart from Gill’s huge appetite for runs, his strokes’ uncanny resemblance to India skipper Virat Kohli had grabbed everyone’s attention. Whether it is the bottom handed extra cover drive or the short arm jab over mid-wicket, cricket fans couldn’t stop drawing parallels between Shubman and Virat.
Having received his maiden India call-up on Sunday (January 13), Gill is on cloud nine and is excited to share the dressing room with Kohli, whom he idolizes in contemporary cricket.
"I am really excited to share the dressing room with Virat. It is a surreal feeling. He is my idol. I like the way he handles pressure. Now, I'll get the chance to learn from him directly," Gill told TOI. "Often I watch Virat's batting videos on YouTube. Whatever I learn, I try and put it into practice in the nets," he added.
Despite being an opener, Gill is ready to bat at any position for the team if given a chance. The 19-year-old is also hopeful of pushing for a spot in the 2019 World Cup squad.
"If I do well for my country, then there is a chance that I might even make the 2019 World Cup squad. For that, I will have to make good every opportunity that is given to me," he said. "My preference is the opening slot but if I am given an opportunity in the middle-order, I will try and maximise that chance."
Talking about his recent batting exploits for Punjab where he amassed 728 runs at an average of 104 from five matches, Gill said: "The Ranji season so far has been great for me. I am in good nick and hitting the ball well. The confidence of having scored runs on a consistent basis is there. Grinding it out in domestic cricket has improved my game enormously."
Speaking about the national call-up, the youngster revealed: "It was a surprise call-up for me. I was just going to sleep and suddenly at around 1 am, I got messages from reporters saying that I have been selected. For the first few seconds, I was in a state of shock. After that, I went and told my father. Initially, I thought this was more of a speculation type of news; but then when I got the call from BCCI, I was over the moon."
He credited the legendary India U-19 and India A coach, Rahul Dravid, for his batting evolution in the last couple of years.
"I am deeply influenced by Rahul Sir. He has been with me for the last two years - at the U-19 level and then during the India 'A' tours. He understands my batting really well. He ensured my batting evolved and got better," Gill concluded.