It was way back in 2000 that India first lifted the U-19 World Cup. It was in this tournament that Yuvraj Singh first came into the limelight He would be named player of the tournament and emerge as a promising batsman with the potential to some day play for India. Eighteen years later and it appears he may have had a hand in forging another U-19 World Cup hero – Shubman Gill.
Shubman, who like Yuvraj also hails from Punjab, was the toast of the U-19 World Cup, smashing three half centuries and a hundred in India’s campaign that saw them lift the title for the fourth time.
Gill, on Monday, revealed that he was guided by the southpaw, who gave him gave him batting tips just before the flew to New Zealand for the tournament. “Yuvi paaji [Yuvraj Singh] gave a lot of guidance when he was at the NCA (National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru). He told me things on off the field; gave me tips and batted along with me,” said Gill.
The 18-year-old produced an unbeaten 102 in the crunch semi-final clash against Pakistan. As he reached the landmark, he celebrated it with gusto. “At the start they were sledging a little, which was all right,” Shubman said. “I expect opponents to sledge a little so I wasn’t too bothered by it. But after we lost a few wickets, they started sledging a lot which was frustrating for me. That’s why I celebrated like that,” said Shubman, who score 372 runs in the tournament.
Gill elaborated on the pressure of playing in a game against Pakistan, adding that it was the calming influence of coach Rahul Dravid that kept the team focused on the job at hand.
“There was pressure for the game against Pakistan. Our openers gave a good start and it was going well in the middle. We lost some wickets and Rahul [Dravid] sir advised me to bat till the end and the partnership with Anukul [Roy] was good,” said the Punjab batsman who was adjudged the player of the tournament.
IPL on mind
Gill is now looking forward to the Indian Premier League, where he will play for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Gill admitted that the IPL auction proved to be a minor distraction, but insisted that the team was focused on the World Cup despite the flutter created by the auction.
“We were tired as we had finished the match against Bangladesh a day before [the auction]. I woke up and got to know that I was picked by KKR. At that time I did not think about the IPL and the focus was on the World Cup,” said Gill, who was picked for Rs 1.80 crore by the Shahrukh Khan-owned franchise.
Gill is one of the few players from the squad, to have played in the Ranji Trophy, where he represents his state Punjab. Gill, though, feels that the pressure of playing in the World Cup was much higher than playing in domestic tournaments.
“The pressure in World Cup is different from that in Ranji [Trophy]. In Ranji, you have to be patient and in the World Cup, you have to be fast. The pressure level in the World Cup (is more) as the (games) are televised,” Gill said.
The youngster said that intense preparation ahead of the tournament was key to India’s success in New Zealand. He stated that the team practiced on wickets which weren’t helpful for scoring fast runs.“The preparation was good and we were prepared for the worst wickets. After we defeated Australia in the first match, we thought our chances were there [to win the title],” he said.
“Individually, we all have many more challenges ahead of us. [My] Aim is to play for India. The journey is still not complete,” he signed off.