The Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul controversy threatens to derail India's 2019 World Cup preparations. However, national selectors have decided to transform the situation into a blessing in disguise.
While all-rounder Vijay Shankar has been named as a replacement for Pandya for Australia and New Zealand tours, Shubman Gill has been picked to replace Rahul on the New Zealand tour.
Shubman's selection is extremely exciting in particular, considering the teenager has drawn comparisons with India skipper Virat Kohli after scoring truckload of runs and for his flamboyant style of play.
After playing a tournament-winning role for India in ICC Under-19 World Cup 2018, Gill has been turning heads in domestic cricket. The Punjab batsman has scored 790 runs in 10 innings at 98.75 in the undergoing Ranji Trophy campaign so far.
In an interview with Times of India, Shubman said that he's looking forward to sharing the dressing room with his 'idol' Kohli.
"I am really excited to share the dressing room with Virat. It is a surreal feeling. He is my idol. I like the way he handles pressure. Now, I'll get the chance to learn from him directly," Gill told the daily. "Often I watch Virat's batting videos on YouTube. Whatever I learn, I try and put it into practice in the nets," the youngster added.
The 19-year-old who was part of India's Under-19 World Cup-winning side has spent a lot of time under Rahul Dravid's guidance. And like many others who flourished under the tutelage of the former India captain, Gill also feels that his batting got better after working with Dravid.
"I am deeply influenced by Rahul Sir. He has been with me for the last two years — at the U-19 level and then during the India 'A' tours. He understands my batting really well. He ensured my batting evolved and got better," said Gill.
The teenager opens the batting for Punjab in Ranji Trophy and has largely been a top-order batsman in his young career, but the Player of Tournament of Under-19 World Cup is ready to bat even in the middle-order to make the most of the opportunity. Also, this might be his maiden call-up to the Indian side but the youngster Punjab's Fazilka district harbours bigger dreams and hopes to do well in New Zealand, if he's given an opportunity, to make a case for his inclusion in India's World Cup squad.