“That boy is special, I can see a lot of years of India blues in him,” says Dinesh Karthik.
Shubman Gill, Player of the Tournament at the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2018, announced his intent on the senior stage with a maiden Twenty20 half-century on Thursday 3 May.
Turning out for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, Gill, an integral member of India’s World Cup-winning squad in New Zealand, struck two sixes and six fours in his 36-ball 57* at Eden Gardens. His effort, in an unbroken 83-run fifth-wicket stand off 36 balls with his captain Dinesh Karthik, guided the side to a six-wicket win over the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings.
It was an innings that prompted his delighted captain to declare, “That boy is special. I don’t want to hype it up so there’s pressure on [him], but I genuinely can see a lot of years of India blues in him.”
Earlier in the game, Gill dropped a chance off Dhoni and the former India captain’s 25-ball 43* lifted Chennai to 177/5 in their 20 overs. So, coming in at 40/2, Gill was desperate to make amends.
“That catch I dropped off Dhoni – I told myself I should finish the match and come back with a win, otherwise I’d be in trouble! I was feeling very embarrassed about that,” said a smiling Gill after the victory.
Having batted down at No.6 or 7 so far in the tournament, Gill hadn’t got a chance to showcase his full range of skills. The only other time he had been given time — with Kolkata 46/4 in 5.1 overs against Delhi Daredevils — he had scored 37 in 29 balls. On Thursday, promoted to No.4, he made the most of the opportunity.
“Batting at No.4 was a different experience for me,” he said, even as he insisted he could play anywhere. “Today cricket is all about adaptability – how well you adapt to situations and positions.”
Gill, who tallied 372 runs in the Under-19 World Cup, was picked up for approximately US$ 281,000 by the franchise, and Karthik was thrilled with what they had got in return.
“Credit to the franchise. They picked a lot of Under-19 boys, and they’re skilled players,” said Karthik. “The number of times he’s come in and hit a first-ball boundary, it’s a great skill to have.”
Stephen Fleming, the Chennai coach, was as impressed at the “fearlessness of youth”. “Some of the shot-making is maybe a little … impulsive, but it’s exciting to watch, isn’t it? As Gill’s innings got on, he got more composure and played well,” said Fleming. “It was his first real opportunity, he’s been batting down the order. He took that opportunity well.”
Personalise your homepage with an ICC account
News, fixtures and updates tailored to your favourite team. Never miss a moment!