Gill, boy to man

The relentless rise of Punjab youngster

Chandigarh: The day that coaches had been predicting has finally arrived — Punjab’s 21-year-old Shubman Gill will become the 297th cricketer to play Test cricket for India. The rise of the youngster has been dramatic but relentless:

Teen sensation

Seven years ago, the 14-year-old Gill made a splash in his first match in the Vijay Merchant Trophy, smashing 205 runs off 238 balls for Punjab against Haryana in the Under-16 tournament. He ended up with 734 runs in the tournament at an average of 73.4, and was named the best Under-16 cricketer by BCCI. The next year, Gill was the star again when Punjab won the Vijay Merchant Trophy, ending up with 1,018 runs in seven matches, with five 100s and three 50s.

World star

Gill was the Man of the Tournament when India won the Under-19 World Cup in 2018, finishing with 372 runs in five innings for an average of 124. His best was reserved for Pakistan, against whom he ensured victory with a fine unbeaten 102. In two Youth Test matches, both in England in 2017, Gill had made 29, 25, 18 and 102 against England Under-19.

Ranji, India A

On his Ranji Trophy debut three years ago, Gill made 63 and 21 against West Bengal. In the 2018-19 Ranji season, Gill piled up 728 runs in nine innings, averaging 104. Rahul Dravid, in-charge of India’s junior and developing teams, included Gill in the India A squad. Gill did not let Dravid down — in 13 innings for India A, Gill amassed 970 runs, with a highest of 204* and average of 88.18. He struck three 100s and five half-centuries.

ODI debut

In January 2019, less than one year after starring in the Under-19 World Cup, Gill was sent to New Zealand for a limited-overs series. Gill played two ODIs but did not shine, making 9 and 7. He played his third ODI early this month, making 33 off 39 balls against Australia at Canberra.

Border’s verdict

Gill made 0, 29, 43 and 65 in practice matches against Australia A in Sydney, and those who saw him bat were impressed. “I’ve been in Sydney the last couple of days, watching the Indian team against Australia A. Gee, I was impressed with Gill,” said former captain Allan Border. “I really think he’s got something about him, his technique. I know he’s young so he can play a few rash shots here and there, but he looks a seriously good player, this kid. He would be my pick out of the guys I saw… If I’m the Indian selector, I’m looking very close at young Gill.” TNS

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