January 13 is the festival of Lohri, an auspicious occasion for Punjabis. For Shubman Gill, an upcoming star of Indian cricket who hails from Fazilka, Punjab, Lohri this year has brought an added dimension of joy. Following the suspension of Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul for their comments on Koffee With Karan, the BCCI announced that Vijay Shankar and Shubman will replace the two players. While Shankar will join the squad for the remaining ODIs in Australia, Shubman will join the Indian cricket team for the five-match ODI and three Twenty20 International series against New Zealand. The fact that Shubman might play for India in New Zealand makes him a destiny’s child.
For Shubman, a potential debut in New Zealand would represent the ultimate crowning glory, for it was at this venue in 2018 that he achieved glory as an India cricketer. During the 2018 Under-19 Cricket World Cup, Shubman was in the squad along with the likes of Prithvi Shaw, who was the skipper and other talented players like Manjot Kalra and Himanshu Rana. He finished the tournament as the highest run-getter for India, blasting 372 runs in six games at a staggering average of 124. His best knock was a classy, unbeaten 102 against Pakistan in the semi-final and his consistency played a big part in India securing the title.
Things got better for the 19-year-old once he came back from his victorious World Cup campaign. In the 2018 Indian Premier League, picked by the Kolkata Knight Riders for Rs 1.8 crore, he smashed 57 against MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings which made him a major talking point. The domestic season proved to be the making of a new star and Shubman impressed in the Deodhar Trophy, scoring 168 runs in three games at an average of 84, including a knock of 106* against India A in a high-scoring chase.
The Punjab youngster was selected in the India A squad for the series against New Zealand and he impressed with a composed 62 in the four-day game at Whangarei and chipped in with some solid knocks in the two List A games at Mount Maunganui. His dream run continued when he was included in the Punjab side for the 2018/19 Ranji Trophy season. In his debut season, the talented right-hander has shown that he belongs to the big stage by smashing 728 runs at an average of 104 with two centuries and five fifties. After starting with two fifties against Andhra Pradesh, he blasted 268 against Tamil Nadu and the best part was that it came while opening the batting.
In his next four games, Shubman scored 10 and 148* against Hyderabad and impressed with 69 against Kerala while he rounded off his campaign with a brilliant 91 against Bengal at the Eden Gardens. The amount of runs scored at the right moment has put Shubman on the doorsteps of an India cap for the series against New Zealand and it represents a rapid rise for a player touted to be the next big star of Indian cricket.