Want to learn a lot from Virat, says Shubman
MOHALI: Around 2007, agriculturist Lakhwinder Gill moved with his family from the remote village of Chak Kherewala in Punjab’s Jalalabad to Mohali. The aim was to provide his seven-year-old son Shubman the best cricket coaching, to help realise the dream of wearing India colours on day.
After his batting brilliance in the victorious India U-19 World Cup team in 2018 – he was player of the tournament -- and then in first class cricket, the 19-year-old Shubman is on the verge of making his father’s dream come true after being selected to the India squad for the upcoming ODI and T20 series in New Zealand.
Though Shubman and allrounder Vijay Shanker are replacements after Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul were suspended on disciplinary grounds, the call-up isn’t surprising.
“I had a decent run in New Zealand for India A followed by a really good Ranji Trophy with the bat. The knock of 268 and 148 against Tamil Nadu and Hyderabad came at the right time. I was anticipating a bit, the national team call-up. It is just an initial step. I hope to cement my berth and serve the country for a long time,” Shubman said in an interview after nets organised at his uncle’s house in Mohali facing a bowling machine.
Punjab could not qualify for the Ranji knockouts but Shubman made a huge impression, dominating quality bowlers and racking up big scores.
Shubman can’t wait to join the senior league and share the dressing room with idol Virat Kohli. “The way India beat Australia (in Tests) under Virat paaji shows his leadership. He is a tremendous cricketer who has set high standards. I’m so excited to play under his captaincy. I am sure I can learn a lot from him. His aggression, technique and fitness inspire me,” said Shubman, who hopes to make his debut in New Zealand, where he shone as an U-19 player.
“A lot of people asked when Shubman was going to make his debut as Prithvi Shaw (U-19 skipper) has al r e ady made an impressive start in Tests. I always told them to be patient. Right things come at the right time. He should aim to be consistent when he gets the chance in the Indian team,” Lakhwinder said.
Shubman caught the eye of IPL scouts while smashing the ball around in the U-19 World Cup and was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for ~1.8 crore before the 2018 season. “He doesn’t really understand finances. I handle his finances, he is just focused on cricket,” added his father.
With the IPL beginning on March 23, ahead of the World Cup in England, Shubman knows doing well in New Zealand and IPL will keep him in good stead.
“Getting into a World Cup squad is not very easy. One has to really do well and make a mark. I need to make use of the opportunities, be it in New Zealand or in IPL. At the same time, I have to be grounded and learn from seniors. It would be another dream come true, (if I get to) being part of the World Cup team. My eyes will be fixed on that,” said Shubman.
He credits Rahul Dravid hugely for his success. “When you have a mentor like him you ought to do well. He lifted my game as India U-19 and India A coach. I learnt to be mentally strong from him and how it is important to go for long knocks,” said Shubman with a glint in his eyes.