Growing up, Shubman Gill dreamed of playing for India. Hailing from the village of Chak Khehrewala in the Ferozepur district of Punjab, a young Shubman would pick up posters of Sachin Tendulkar and idolize his stick style.
He was barely five or six at the time, and every time Tendulkar knocked, the youngster was glued to the television. At that time, few would have thought, Shubman would actually live out his dream – to wear the colors of India.
But since joining the Indian squad a few years ago, Shubman has slowly and steadily marked his class – like a true opener. While making his ODI debut against New Zealand in January 2019, the 21-year-old had to wait longer before making his entry into the Test squad.
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And as the opportunity presented itself in the series against Australia, Shubman proved his worth, amassing 265 in three tests. Even though he couldn’t convert good starts into big scores in the first two outings, the youngster’s 91 in Brisbane on Tuesday guided India to a series victory over Australia.
While it was an incredible time for Gill, his mentor and former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, remembers those days working with Shubman to prepare him for the Australia tour.
A few months ago, Yuvraj had long sessions with Shubman and a few other Punjabi cricketers. “The objective was obviously (to prepare) the Australian series. Work on short ball and defense. Only a good defense helps you against fast quality bowlers, ”Yuvraj told Sportstar.
During the training, Yuvraj also got Shubman to talk to his “childhood hero” Tendulkar – who suggested several things.
“I got him to talk to Sachin Tendulkar, who also insisted on developing good defense to survive on difficult terrain. Forefoot defense and tackle swing were also the areas we worked on, ”said Yuvraj.
Yuvraj Singh chatting with Shubman Gill and other youngsters from the Punjab squad during a training session. – Special arrangement
Having observed Shubman closely, Yuvraj is pleased with the way the youngster has developed. “He’s been with the team for a year now and it has prepared him well. He was ready for the Australia tour and he looked solid as an opener.
Well against England
Shubman’s batting show was one of the highlights of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and Yuvraj expects his ward to put on a good show in the home series against England.
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“He is in a good position in the team. The skills were still there, but now he will have the confidence. The fear of failure is gone and it can happen in any part of the world. I expect him to grow up in the series against England, ”said Yuvraj.
The four-match test series against England begins in Chennai from February 5 and like any other member of the Indian squad, even Shubman wants to keep the momentum going.
The rise as a drummer
While his stints with Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League made him a household name, it hasn’t been an easy trip for the swashbuckling drummer.
His father and first coach, Lakhwinder Singh Gill, had to move to Chandigarh from their home village of Chak Khehrewala in the Ferozepur district of Punjab in 2007 to support his cricket career. As the family battled against all odds to support him in a new city, Shubman first grabbed the spotlight with a record-breaking 587 partnership run with Nirmal Singh and scored 351 points in a U-16 tournament in Punjab. Soon he was drafted into the Punjab U-19 squad.
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A few years later, the youngster was selected for India’s U-19 and A teams and was named man of the tournament at the ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand in 2018, where he scored 372 points. This tournament not only gave Shubman fame, but also paved the way for a bright future.
Over the past few years the youngster has worked tirelessly to improve his stick and fitness and in a touring match against Australia A in November last year the legendary Allan Border was also impressed with Shubman’s style of play.
From collecting posters of cricketers to praising some of the biggest names in world cricket – Shubman has certainly come a long way!