Having watched Shubman Gill in the nets last year, Virat Kohli was convinced that he was not as good as the Punjab batsman at such a young age.
Now with his rare combination of power and elegance, the 21-year-old Gill has become one of the brightest stars at the 2020 Indian Premier League, raising Kolkata Knight Riders’ hopes about winning their third title in the world’s greatest T20 league.
During an interview with Khaleej Times, the KKR opener, who has played two ODIs, opened up on his mindset as a player and ambition to cement his place in the Indian team.
You have been one of the most impressive young players in this tournament so far with some very fine innings. You will be now expected to play a very important role for KKR as the tournament reaches the business end?
It obviously feels great to be able to contribute for the team. And I think to be able to do that consistently is what I have been striving for right now. And as coming to the later part of the tournament, it will be very important for all of us to be consistent.
Brendon McCullum, the current KKR coach, gave a flying start to the IPL in 2008 with a stunning 158 off 73 balls in the tournament’s first ever match (against RCB). You must have been only nine back then. Did you watch that live on the television? Is it a bit surreal now to be playing for KKR with Brendon as the coach?
I can’t really remember if I watched that live (on television). But I definitely watched it when I was like around 10. It was so unreal at that time, you know, to be able to see a batsman score almost 160 runs in a T20 game because even in a one-day match it seemed very big score at that time. And to be able to play for a team under him right now, under his coaching and under his mentorship, it feels great.
You shared a match-winning partnership with Eoin Morgan while chasing against Sunrisers. During the course of your stand with the England World Cup-winning captain, did you pick his brain on the art of chasing?
We were just talking constantly and trying to anticipate what the bowlers might bowl at us, like what are the kind of deliveries, they would try to bowl at us. So it was a good experience batting with him. Hopefully, we will do that lot more.
IPL has allowed players like Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya to cement their India places in a very short span of time. Consistency with the KKR could open the door to Indian team for you as well.
Obviously, if you are doing well for your franchise in IPL, you kind of expect to have the call for the Indian team and once you get an opportunity there you try to cement your place as quick as possible.
Your first class average is unbelievable (73.55), which shows you are a brilliant player in red-ball cricket. Since you are a player in the modern era where you need to change gears from 20 overs format to 50 overs and the longer version, what are the things you do to maintain the balance? Like playing attacking cricket in shorter versions and showing a more patient approach in longer formats…
There is not much change in the technicality as a batsman. There is, of course, a change in the mindset of a batsman because you if you are playing a one-day game today, and if you have to play a Test match few days later, there is going to be a change in the mindset. I mean there won’t be any changes made in the shots that you play like a if it’s a drive in T20, a one-day game or a Test match. It’s just your shot selection. That comes with your mind set, whether you want to play that shot or not.
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