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Posted at: Jan 13, 2018, 1:44 AM; last updated: Jan 13, 2018, 1:44 AM (IST)

Gill wants to follow in Kohli’s footsteps

Sunny Kaul

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12

It was in 2008 that the world first took note of a chubby-cheeked but aggressive Virat Kohli as he led India to the ICC U-19 World Cup triumph in Malaysia. Ten years later, Punjab's Shubman Gill, part of India's U-19 World Cup squad, hopes to emulate the feat of his idol.

“It is a very good opportunity for me. If I do well in this tournament, it will give a big boost to my career,” the 18-year-old Gill told The Tribune before heading to New Zealand for the World Cup. “I want to grab this opportunity like Virat did, and help my team win.” 

The youngster, who hails from Fazilka, is a huge fan of Kohli's fitness and his consistency.  “He remains my inspiration. Everyone looks up to him. His fitness, athleticism, performances he has been putting in... he's an inspiration for many,” said Gill. And Gill is leaving no stone unturned to follow in his idol's footsteps.

Fitness freak

“Shubman has stopped the intake of sugar. At an age when kids generally crave for chocolates and ice creams, he has decided not to even touch them,” said his father Lakhwinder Singh. “A few days back, I asked him about his diet and he said he was having boiled vegetables.” 

“Earlier, he was a little fussy about food like every child his age but now he's having boiled stuff. He works hard on his fitness and doesn't want to put on extra kilos,” he added. 

A gifted child

Lakhwinder is an ardent cricket fan and after watching his son's interest in the sport, he decided to leave his native village in Fazilka and shift to Mohali to provide better facilities to Shubman. 

“He is a gifted child. Although I have not played the sport much, watching a three-year-old reach out to the ball the way he did was something that caught my attention and I decided to make him practise regularly,” said Lakhwinder, who is an agriculturist.   

“He was around seven when I decided to leave my village and come to Mohali. Initially, there were a lot of difficulties. We were not allowed to practise at the grounds close to the PCA Stadium in the mornings and evenings, so we would practise during the day under the blazing sun,” recalled Lakhwinder. 

“I also drew a lot criticism from my relatives who thought I had left my parents behind to enjoy a good life with my wife and kids in Mohali. But that did not deter us, we continued to move in the right direction.  And with the grace of God, the result is there for everyone to see.” 

Challenges ahead

India open their campaign against Australia on Sunday at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui. Gill, the vice-captain of the team, feels the side led by Jason Sangha would be the team to beat. “Since we have not played against Australia, I think they will be the team to beat. We have played against all the Subcontinent teams, we have also played against England… so I think Australia will be a tough contender,” he said.  

Game awareness

Like Kohli, Shubman is aware of his game and knows he needs to spend time in the middle before going after the bowlers in New Zealand.  “It will be important to stay at the crease for the initial half-an-hour or hour, particularly if we are batting first. So I am planning about all those things. You don't have to play too many shots at the start of the innings,” said Gill.

Group A 

India, Australia, Papua, New Guinea and Zimbabwe 

Group B 

Kenya, New Zealand, South Africa and West Indies 

Group C 

Bangladesh, Canada, England and Namibia 

Group D

Afghanistan, Ireland, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka

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