'Got a storm of messages at midnight': Shubman Gill reveals 'special' call-up
Just after the stroke of midnight on January 13, 2019, a youngster from Punjab would have got a new lease of life as he was handed his maiden call-up to the Indian cricket team, thanks to his consistent performances with the bat of late.
With all-rounder Hardik Pandya and opening batsman KL Rahul ruled out of the ODI series against Australia and the subsequent tour of New Zealand because of the controversy surrounding their episode on Koffee With Karan, Punjab batsman Shubman Gill and Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar were called in to replace the suspended duo.
Though the announcement came in late in the day, it was worth the wait for them as getting into the Indian team is always a dream come true for anyone and if it happens for the first time, it is even more special.
The case is no different with the 19-year-old Shubman as the right-hander almost slept off before a storm of WhatsApp messages came his way, with news of his selection to the Indian team, brightening up the mood in the Gill household.
Talking to Sportskeeda in an exclusive chat about his call-up, Shubman said, "I was about to sleep at night and I suddenly got a storm of messages on WhatsApp from my friends and reporters. And then I went to check what happened and then got to know that myself and Vijay Shankar are replacing Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul. I went and told my dad and he was very happy."
"Obviously, I am feeling very happy and very special about the call-up. I am really looking forward to being in New Zealand with the team," he added.
The last 365 days must have been the best days of his life as he went into the 2018 ICC under-19 World Cup with the Prithvi Shaw-led Indian team almost this time last year and was one of the main reasons why India put on an invincible show and won the tournament without breaking a sweat.
Shubman was also deservedly named the Player of the Tournament for scoring 372 runs in five innings at an astonishing average of 124 and a strike-rate of 112.38. Following his under-19 triumph, he had a good IPL stint with Kolkata Knight Riders and was quite successful for India A in almost all the series he took part in.
Recently, he forced his way into the Indian team with some sensational performances for Punjab in the Ranji Trophy as he scored a stroke-filled 268 against Tamil Nadu, almost led Punjab to an unlikely win on day 4 of their game against Hyderabad, an unbeaten 69 against Kerala and a 91 against Bengal. In total, he has scored 728 runs in five matches at an average of 104 in Ranji Trophy this season.
Though he has been a run machine in the domestic circuit, international cricket is a completely different ball game and the youngster is wary of the challenges that are at stake for him, but at the same time, is confident of expressing himself and doing well.
"It will take some time for me to adapt to international cricket, the conditions, the pressure etc. But, with time, I will adapt and will be able to cope up with the demands and pressure," he said.
Shubman, a fan of Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, wants to emulate the stalwarts and knows that it is very difficult to maintain high standards.
"Obviously, my all-time favourite is Sachin Tendulkar. When I started watching cricket, he was a legend, he is still a legend and will remain one forever. But, now my favourite is Virat Kohli. I like his style, the way he carries himself and how he handles pressure. I would like to try and emulate him. It will be very difficult," he said in an interview with us in 2017.
Now, the teenager is set to play alongside his favourite cricketer Virat Kohli and has kept his goal and mantra simple if he gets a chance - to be himself and play his game.
"If I get a chance to play in New Zealand, I just want to be myself while playing and express myself," he concluded.
Shubman Gill will join the Indian team in New Zealand where they will be playing five ODIs followed by three T20Is.