‘Even when I play ludo, I am extremely competitive’
In a candid interview, Indian cricketer Shubman Gill talks about his preparations for the upcoming tour in Zimbabwe, the perils of being a popular sportsperson in the country, how he deals with social media trolls and how his friends drive him to be more competitive.
Ever since he won the Men’s U-19 World Cup in 2018, Shubman Gill’s posters have been gracing the walls of many cricket enthusiasts in India. That number has only grown, especially after he won his first ever IPL (Indian Premier League) trophy this season with Gujarat Titans. While the 22-year-old admits he loves the support he has received, his focus is only on achieving his dream, that is continuing to represent India at the highest level.
“The year did not start on a good note for me. I had an injury in December, because of which I was out of the Sri Lanka series. Then, we played in the IPl and I was really determined to do well there. Thankfully we won that, and then we went to England, where I was part of just one test match, and then the West Indies tour, where I did decently. So, I just want to focus on representing India, because that has always been the dream,” he says.
He made his debut for India at the highest level in 2020, against Australia in the now historically iconic Test series, where Gill’s 91 runs in the fourth innings was instrumental as India beat Australia at Gabba after 32 years.
Branded as one of the most exciting young cricketers, by several cricket experts, due to his natural ability, Gill is frequently tipped to emulate the likes of some of the greatest Indian batsmen. However, he insists he hasn’t made it so far on talent alone. “There’s a lot of practice and hard work involved,” he says as he explains how he practised hard to ace the front-foot pull shot, which many feel showcases his ability to have more time than anyone else while batting.
“I practised a lot with my father for that shot. We practised with a particular plastic ball, which is only 70 grams in weight,” he explains. “He (his father) wanted me to learn that pull shot, especially to play it in foreign conditions. He used to get them specially made from Jalandhar, just for that particular shot,” he adds.
This desire for excellence, to perform and stay consistent, Gill attributes to his family and especially his friends, who he says, are as competitive as he is. “I am a sportsperson, so it comes with the territory. I have to be competitive. Even when I am playing Ludo, I have to win it, I am extremely competitive,” he says.
“That’s also partly because all my friends are equally as competitive. They say you become what you are surrounded with, so I guess part of my competitiveness also comes from the fact that the majority of people in my life are also like that!”, he jokes.
While there have been praises galore, Gill has also witnessed the uglier side of fame. Be it the rumours of a romantic relationship with former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar’s daughter, Sara Tendulkar, or criticism related to his strike rate in the T20 format. While he stayed mum on the relationship rumours with Sara, he does admit the comments and trolls affected him at the beginning, but he now is able to distance himself from them.
“I know one thing that people will forever keep talking so it is pointless to let it affect you. Yes, it did affect me at the beginning, but now I don’t let it affect me or my game, over the last one year or so. People who are not in my life, their opinion doesn’t affect me. Now, when I see a troll I actually feel sad for them,” says Gill who is excited for the upcoming tour to Zimbabwe.
“I am happy with the preparations for the tour. We practised hard and I was here in Chandigarh to practice. I am really looking forward to this series and performing there to the best of my ability,” he signs off.
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