Wednesday, January 31, 2018

ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup hero Shubman Gill ‘new Yuvraj Singh’ of Punjab cricket

HT, 31st January 2018
With an aggregate of 341 runs in the ongoing ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup, Shubman Gill from the town of Fazilka in Punjab's Ferozepur district has been the center of attention, even more than the skipper Prithvi Shaw, and has drawn comparisons with Yuvraj Singh.

A heady mixture of silken grace and dollops of brute power has always defined Punjab school of batsmanship and the latest to have emerged from that stable is 18-year-old Shubman Gill.

With an aggregate of 341 runs in the ongoing U-19 World Cup, the teenager from non descript town of Fazilka in Punjab's Ferozepur district has been the centre of attention, even more than the highly-rated skipper Prithvi Shaw.

Strapping with sinewy wrists, Shubman's exciting strokeplay has earned him eyeballs and no wonder he went to Kolkata Knight Riders for a bid of Rs 1.8 crore at the IPL auction.

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It was around 10 days ago when India were playing their second group league game of the World Cup against Zimbabwe at Mount Maunganui, Shubman pulled rival pacer N Nungu for a six over deep mid-wicket.

It was a short-arm jab but more interestingly there was an eerie similarity with a stroke that Virat Kohli had hit during his innings of 150 against England in an ODI in Pune, last January.

In fact, the BCCI's official website compared both the strokes and it spoke about the skill and swagger which have been the hallmark of all great players hailing from North India.

During the days of Mohinder Amarnath and Navjot Sidhu -- Punjab batting was more about grit and power but Yuvraj Singh married both. And now it seems that Shubman is ready to carry that legacy forward.

And none other than his senior Punjab team captain Harbhajan Singh, who feels that he has got everything to succeed at the highest level.

"Obviously, the more he plays quality bowling, he will improve. He will play in different conditions, go through phases where he would know how to score runs in difficult conditions. But make no mistake, I have seen 18-year-old Yuvraj Singh from close quarters, Shubman is as talented as Yuvraj," Harbhajan gave a fair assessment about the youngster.

"His biggest advantage is that he has strokes that all modern day players would like to have. He can hit Dilscoop (the lap shot made famous by TM Dilshan), he can hit the ramp shot (guiding over thirdman), inside out lofted shot.

"And the toughest of them all -- the pull in-front of square. Pulling through deep square leg is not difficult but you need to be tall with supple wrists to keep the ball down while pulling in-front of square. Shubman has that," says the veteran of 100 plus Test matches.

In fact, Shubman himself said that he would like to play all formats when former England opener Robert Key interviewed him.

"Adaptability is the key and I would like to play all three formats."

Coming from an affluent family with plethora of farmland, the legend has it that Shubman's father Lakhwinder Singh had constructed a turf pitch on his farmland, where little Shubman practiced during his early days.

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