Shubman Gill Image Credit: PTI

Mumbai: Young Shubman Gill was not expecting a surprise call-up for the New Zealand tour, and “certainty not just after midnight” on Saturday.

“It was a pleasant surprise indeed. Generally, I go to bed at 10.30pm but was not getting sleep yesterday night and was awake till 1am when my mobile rang. One of my friends conveyed the good news”, he said in an exclusive interview over telephone.

“I was so overjoyed with the news that I could not resist the temptation of waking my father (Lakhwinder Singh), who was fast asleep.”

The 19-year-old right-handed top order batsman did not wish to think too much about the fact that his selection was only because of BCCI’s decision to suspend Lokesh Rahul and Hardik Pandya for their controversial remarks on women on a TV show.

“Well, I can’t comment on their behaviour but when selectors have posed confidence in me, I will try to justify my selection. My experience in New Zealand for two tours (Under-19 and India A tour) should benefit me. If I get a chance to play in the final XI, I will try my best to perform”, he added.

Shubman Gill’s father, Lakhwinder, was too excited with the selection of his son. Interestingly, the father wanted to become a cricketer but could not fulfil his dream and hopes his son achieves success.

“My father is my coach. He has been my motivator and whatever I have achieved so far is due to him”, Shubman said. “My father owns agricultural lands in Fazilka, Punjab. He would often hire the labours to throw balls at me and give me batting practice”, Shubman recalled.

A proud Lakhwinder said: “Shubman was so passionate about cricket since the age of three that he always used to sleep with a bat and ball. Kids of that age would play with toys but his dream has always remained to be a cricketer”.

Shubman’s mother is a housewife while sister Shahneel is studying in Canada. “My selection news has been conveyed to her in Canada and not only she wished me but told me to grab this opportunity to cement my place in the senior team”, Shubman concluded.

— The writer is a freelance journalist based in Mumbai