I Would Bracket Shubman Gill With The Likes Of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, And KL Rahul: Harbhajan Singh

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Harbhajan Singh, the former India off-spinner was preparing his Punjab state team for the Vijay Hazare Trophy league stage in Delhi when the state selectors told him about a 17-year-old ‘talented’ boy in February 2017.

It didn’t take Shubman Gill long to repay the faith and confidence that Harbhajan Singh showed in his special abilities. In just his second game for Punjab, he scored 121 against Assam. Later that year, he slammed 129 in just his second Ranji Trophy game after which he didn’t look back.

Shubman Gill (Credits: Twitter)
Shubman Gill (Credits: Twitter)

Harbhajan Singh Recalls Picking Shubman Gill In Punjab State Team Before His Heroics For India

On Monday, Shubman Gill smashed his maiden international hundred, which came of just 82 balls, while stroking his way to a glorious 130 off 97 balls against Zimbabwe in the third ODI at Harare.

“They told me: ‘He’s a very good talent. We’ll play him in the Ranji Trophy later this year. He’ll do well’ I said: ‘No if he’s a good talent, if he’s doing well now, then why should we see him in the future? Let’s pick him now.’ ‘Are you sure? ‘ they asked me. ‘100%,’ I replied instantly,” Harbhajan Singh remembered.

Harbhajan Singh (Image Credits: Twitter)
Harbhajan Singh (Image Credits: Twitter)

Shubman Gill is on an incredible streak in the ODI format. He scored 64, 43 & 98* to win the Man of the Series award in West Indies recently, and then 82* & 33, before the century (130) in Zimbabwe.

“When he first played for Punjab, I figured out that he has time to play fast bowling. He plays the short ball really well, which means you’re good enough to play at the international level. He pulls the ball towards mid-on & mid-wicket, rather than to square leg, which shows how much time he has,” praises Harbhajan.

In 9 ODIs, Shubman Gill has scored 499 runs averaging 71.29, with a strike rate of 105.27. In what has turned out to be a watershed year for him, the youngster has scored 471 runs in seven international matches across formats averaging 78.50.

Harbhajan Singh Would Bracket Shubman Gill With The Likes Of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, And KL Rahul And Wants Him To Be Future India Skipper

Harbhajan Singh thinks that Shubman Gill has batting qualities similar to Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and KL Rahul.

Harbhajan Singh adds: “He’s a sorted batsman, who has a sound technique, and very good shot selection. In terms of quality of batsmanship, I would bracket him with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul in the current Indian team. You love to watch them bat.”

There was another time when Harbhajan Singh, playing the role of a player-cum mentor at the Kolkata Knight Riders, helped out Shubman Gill, who was playing for the franchise in his fledgling career.

During the first leg of the IPL in April in India last year (IPL 2021), the prodigious talent was getting out for cheap scores repeatedly. Harbhajan Singh noticed the problem and offered Shubman Gill a solution.

Shubman Gill | Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for BCCI
Shubman Gill | Vipin Pawar / Sportzpics for BCCI

“He was trying to play like the other (attacking) batsmen. Everyone has a different game, a distinct style. In those first 6-7 games in India, he was looking to take the bowlers on right away, trying to hit a shot off every ball. I told him: ‘Look, you’ve got the game to succeed. You play fast bowling so well. You can take singles easily, hit boundaries at will. You’ve to just play like a proper batter. You don’t need to slog.”

The retired tweaker’s advice worked well for Shubman Gill, as he cracked a few good scores in the second leg of IPL 2021 in UAE. Having spent some time with Shubman Gill at Punjab & Kolkata Knight Riders dressing rooms, Harbhajan Singh has a fair idea about the young man’s “tough” character.

“The good thing about him is that he’s hungry for success. Few batsmen these days feel bad when they’re not scoring runs. He’s one of those characters. He feels he is letting the team down when he’s in poor form. It’s a quality one must have. It’s a quality that Tendulkar too had,” says Harbhajan Singh.

The ‘Turbanator’ feels that someday in the future, Shubman Gill can even be the India captain. Shubman Gill played for KKR for four seasons. In 58 games for the franchise, he scored 1417 runs with an average of 31.48 and a strike rate of 123 which included 10 fifties.

“For me, he’s a future India captain. He’s got the game, and he’ll learn about the captaincy. So, why not?”

Shubman Gill, who was one of the star performers for Kolkata Knight Riders in the last four seasons of the Indian Premier League, was roped in by IPL debutant Gujarat Titans for Rs 8 crore, as one of the three draft picks ahead of the IPL 2022 mega auctions.

He aggregated a total of 483 runs at an average of 34.50 and a strike rate of 132.33 in IPL 2022 for GT after scoring 478 runs in IPL 2021.

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