'I'm giving you 10 years in age. The least you can do is...': Virat Kohli's important lesson for Shubman Gill
The Shubman Gill-Virat Kohli connection is not new. It was under Kohli that Gill made his India debut back in 2019 during an ODI against New Zealand and it was Virat who interviewed Shubman after the 23-year-old hammered a breathtaking 208 last month in Hyderabad.
Just like Virat Kohli took over as the quintessential star of Indian batting from the great Sachin Tendulkar, when the time comes, the torch is likely to be carried forward by Shubman Gill. The young opener, who has had a blazing start to 2023, added another feather in his cap when he smashed his maiden T20I century in the series decider against New Zealand and helped India seal the series 2-1 with a handsome 168-run win in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. Gill remained unbeaten on 126 off 63 balls en route to registering the highest individual score by an Indian in T20Is piping Virat Kohli's 122 against Afghanistan six months ago in the UAE. In fact, the Gill-Kohli connection is not new. It was under Kohli that Gill made his India debut back in 2019 during an ODI against New Zealand and it was Virat who interviewed Shubman after the 23-year-old hammered a breathtaking 208 last month in Hyderabad.
The camaraderie between Kohli and Gill is nothing new. Former India fielding coach R Sridhar narrated an incident to highlight Kohli's passion and determination towards being the best at everything he did. During a fielding session, Kohli was in beast mode and dishing out an infectious energy that Gill could not stay away from.
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"In March 2021, we were in Ahmedabad for the third of 4 Tests against England. It was out first citing of the Narendra Modi Stadium, which would be hosting only the 2nd Day-Night Test in India. We were not guaranteed a place in the final of the World Test Championship (WTC), so there was a lot riding on this match. Much debate had been generated by how the colour of the seats, many of which would be unoccupied due to the restrictions necessitated by the pandemic, could offer a difficult backdrop against which to cite the pink ball," Sridhar wrote in his book 'Coaching Beyond'.
It had only been a month from the Gabba Test in Brisbane, where Gill had played a scintillating innings of 91 to play a key part in India's famous series win to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Entering the home series, Gill was expected to take the next big step in Indian cricket but he couldn't quite do so. Managing just 119 runs from four Tests with a highest score of 50, Gill’s technique was exposed by James Anderson, but come the Ahmedabad Test, he needn't look beyond Kohli for inspiration, even if it wasn't related to batting.
"Virat knew he could not control anything else beyond being ready for the unexpected. So, he tucked me aside for a fielding session in twilight under a not-so-ideal backdrop of orange chairs that dotted the stands, taking close to an unbelievable 200 catches. And that too, the night before a Test match. Shubman Gill, who was looking on from a distance, eventually got so tired of watching that he too decided to join in the fun," added Sridhar.
"Virat smiled at him cheekily and said, ‘I am giving you 10 years in age, young man. The least you can do is take a few catches yourself.’ The session only ended when, in exasperation, the manager came out to inform him that the rest of the squad was ready and good to go and that the team bus was leaving for the hotel in 10 minutes."