Shubman Gill of Kolkata KnightRiders in action during the match against the Chennai Super Kings at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday. Image Credit: IPL

Dubai: Shubman Gill, who sparkled with a matchwinning half-cenutry in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday night, is on a rapid learning curve. The 18-year-old displayed the wide repertoire of strokes he possesses at such a young age during his innings against the Chennai Super Kings.

Gill was not considered for the first two games and, in the next few, he batted at No. 7. He scored 37 runs against Delhi Daredevils on April 27 in a match his team lost. Thereafter, the team think tank decided to promote him to No.4. “I am very pleased to have batted at No.4,” said Gill, who did not hesitate to take advice from his captain Dinesh Karthik once he knew that he would have to bat up the order.

“I talked to DK [Dinesh Karthik] on how to deal with the death overs. It’s been a great IPL experience with Jacques Kallis [head coach] and Simon Katich [batting coach]. I have learnt so much from them,” said Gill who, along with Karthik, put on an unbeaten 83-run fifth-wicket stand in six overs to seal a comprehensive win.

Gill enjoys being in the company of senior cricketers and, in a fun chat after the match, he said he is eagerly waiting to grow a beard like Karthik. When a journalist asked him about his dimples, the tall and handsome Gill thanked his mother for it. “I am certainly waiting for my beard to grow. I want to grow a beard like Karthik. The dimples have come from my mother, so I would like to thank her for that.”

The youngster has justified the faith Kolkata reposed in him, having bought him for Rs18 million ($281,000 approximately) following his impressive show in the India Under-19 team’s campaign at the World Cup in January-February.

Karthik acknowledged Gill’s talent after the big partnership with him. “All credit to the franchise that they picked a lot of Under-19 players. This boy is special. I don’t want to hype it up and put extra pressure on him. I can see a lot of years of India blues in him.”

Soon after Gill’s show in the Under-19 World Cup, former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly had commented that he sees a bright future in Gill. Incidentally, Gill who is only 18 years and 237 days, has become the fourth youngest to score an IPL half century after Prithvi Shaw, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant — all of whom are likely to be future Indian stars.

Kolkata’s experienced spinner Piyush Chawla, commenting on Gill, said: “Before the start of the matches, during our camp, I had said that he is a special talent. Today he proved it. We needed somebody who can graft the innings and he did exactly the same, which the team demanded from him.”