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Shubman Gill continues red-hot streak in ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup

Shubman Gill’s unbeaten 102 set up India’s 203-run drubbing of Pakistan in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, sealing a berth in the final against Australia

cricket Updated: Jan 31, 2018 15:37 IST
Ankit Kumar Singh
Ankit Kumar Singh
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Under-19 Cricket World Cup,ICC U-19 World Cup,Shubman Gill
India's Shubman Gill celebrates his century during the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup semi-final against Pakistan at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Tuesday.(AFP)

Shubman Gill’s 18-year-old shoulders are burdened with great expectations. Look at the stars the ICC Under-19 Cricket Worlds Cups have yielded for India. Yuvraj Singh (2000); Mohammed Kaif (2000); Shikhar Dhawan (2004); and Virat Kohli (2008): these are the men in whose shadow Gill will be walking. (IND U-19 v PAK U-19 SCORECARD)

The right-handed batsman has been in cracking form throughout the tournament in New Zealand. He made 63 against Australia, 90* against Zimbabwe and 86 against Bangladesh in the quarters. (IND U-19 v PAK U-19 MATCH REPORT)

On Tuesday, he came up with another outstanding performance, scoring an unbeaten hundred to fashion India’s 203-run victory over Pakistan in the second semi-final at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

Coming out to bat in the 16th over at 89 for 1 after India lost captain Prithvi Shaw, Gill batted right through the end. He made 102 from 94 balls.

What was remarkable about his innings was the way he ran between the wickets. It was how he managed to have a strike rate of more than 108.51 despite hitting only seven boundaries during his vigil in the middle.

Riding on his knock, India posted 272/9, a total that proved too much for Pakistan. India then bowled out Pakistan for 69 in 29.3 overs. No batsman other than Gill managed to cross 50 in the match.

“I rate this innings very highly as it was against Pakistan. The pitch was on the slower side and it was not easy for strokeplay. I am happy to have got the Man of the Match award,” Gill said.

Gill has been the India U-19 team’s most consistent batsman throughout this event. He has now 341 runs from five matches at an average of 170.50 and a strike rate of 113.28 in the tournament. Only West Indian batsman Alick Athanaze, with a tally of 418 runs from six matches, has more runs than Gill in the tournament.

Gill’s dream run at the event hadn’t gone unnoticed during the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction last weekend. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) snapped him up for Rs. 1.8 crore. But don’t think of him as merely a limited-overs cricketer. “I would like to play all three formats as adaptability is the key,” he said on Tuesday.

Shubman’s father, Lakhwinder Singh Gill, an agriculturalist, said the player’s focus hadn’t been on the auction despite the interest in him among the franchises.

“Shubman had been preparing for the U-19 World Cup 2018 for two years. He wasn’t really keeping an eye out for the IPL auction. Since the day he left for New Zealand, he has been only thinking about winning the trophy for the country. As parents, we were thrilled to see his name in the auction list. His performances in the ongoing World Cup seem to have made a strong impression,” Gill senior had said after the auction.

With India now taking on Australia in the final on February 3, the 18-year-old from Punjab will look to continue his hot streak and help India lift the coveted trophy for the fourth time.

First Published: Jan 30, 2018 12:22 IST