The suave, budding cricketer is touted by many as the new Virat Kohli. We look at how the former vice-captain of the india U-19 team, currently playing for IPL’s Gujarat Titans, keeps his head in the game.
HELLO!: How did you get into cricket? Was it something that came naturally to you, or were your parents instrumental in making you play?
SHUBMAN GILL: “I started playing cricket when I was barely three, thanks to my dad. As a child, my dad was my hero, and he was obsessed with cricket, especially Sachin Tendulkar. The first thing I did when I got a bat in my hand was try to copy Sachin sir’s straight drive. Initially, I used to play by myself, hitting a ball against a wall and keeping that streak up 30 to 35 times. My father noticed I had a knack for the game, so he bet the farm kids that he’d give them INR 50 to INR 100 if any of them could get me out. Back then, I used to play with a stick and a tennis ball.”
H!: What has your time with the Gujarat Titans been like?
SG: “The experience has been amazing so far! I had become comfortable playing for Kolkata Knight Riders, but then I got a call from Yuvi paaji (Yuvraj Singh), and he made me speak with Gary Kirsten. Ashu bhai (Ashish Nehra) also convinced me, so our ideas and goals aligned, and the rest has been great.”
H!: Are you looking forward to playing for Team India? Many have described you as the next Virat Kohli...
SG: “It’s every child’s dream in India to one day play at the World Cup. I was 11 years old when I saw MS Dhoni lift the World Cup. It’s my dream to one day represent the national team and win the cup for India again. Being called the next Virat Kohli is a great compliment. I don’t feel pressured by it, but I know in the back of my mind that there’s a long way to go for me, as a player and a batsman.”
H!: Was it only your dad who pushed you towards the game, or was your mum also instrumental in some way?
SG: “My dad used to travel back and forth to Chandigarh for work, so it was my mother who played an important role in making sure that I went to my practices. She would be up at 3 am; she’d prepare food and tiffin boxes and then drop me to practice. She was a very hands-on parent; she picked me up after the sessions and made sure I was taken care of during this crucial time.”
H!: You’ve become increasingly famous on Instagram, with almost 2 million followers today. How do you treat this Instafame? Do you get bugged by the trolls once in a while?
SG: “Being trolled is part and parcel of being on social media. Initially, they might come across as rude, but over a period of time, you get used to it and over it. It’s very easy for someone to write whatever they want to online; you can’t get affected by someone sitting thousands of miles away. The Instafame is great, as long as people keep in mind that I’m just a regular guy at heart and don’t like my privacy invaded, just like anyone else out there. During the pandemic, I had to live in a bubble for almost two years. So when I got the chance to go out and spend time with friends, I did get a lot of people coming up to me, wanting pictures and autographs. I never say ‘no’ to them, but sometimes I wish to enjoy those moments with my friends privately.”
H!: You recently bought a new Range Rover. Where does the love for cars stem from?
SG: “It’s funny, but my love for cars comes from hearing the names of the luxury car manufacturers in Punjabi music. They used to keep rapping about the Range Rover, so I looked into the car and then just had to have it. The next car I have my eyes on is a Corvette, but it’s not available in India yet. So let’s see…”
H!: What do you do when you have some free time in your hands? Any hobbies or interests apart from cricket?
SG: “We get very little free time, but the little I get, I use it to play PlayStation, spend time outdoors or shopping. I’m a self-confessed sneaker-head.”
H!: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
SG: “I don’t usually plan that far ahead. Usually, I keep a goal in mind and plan for the coming six months. My aim is to be happy. I’d be satisfied if I was at peace with myself.”
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s August 2022 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!