Lakhwinder Gill took his seven-year-old son, Shubman, to the nearest cricket academy from his home in Mohali. Sukhwinder Tinku, a former India under-19 cricketer, recalls the young trainee making an instant impact on him. The exquisite timing caught Tinku’s eye and it reminded him of left-handed Brian Lara, who he troubled him a lot during the 1988 Youth World Cup.
“He was the youngest in my academy. The timing of his shots was so good that out of curiosity, I called him up to check his bat,” Tinku told The Indian Express.
What Tinku found was extraordinary. “It was a wooden bat, not the one you get from the shops. His father has made one for him. Six inches from the bottom, there was a ball-sized hole in his bat. It left me awestruck. I was speechless. Lakhwinder then revealed that he made Shubman play 500 to 700 balls every day,” recalled Tinku.
Thereafter, Shubman trained under Tinku and it was in 2014 when Shubman Gill and Nirmal Singh, playing for Mohali, put on 587 runs for the first wicket in the Inter-District U-16 cricket tournament against Amritsar at the IS Bindra PCA Stadium in Mohali. Shubman scored 351, while Nirmal amassed 267.
Two things that stood out for Tinku in all these years while Shubman trained under him were his work ethic and his father’s role in his development. “First, his eagerness to learn. You don’t have to tell him twice. If you have taught him something today, next day he will fix it.
“Lakhwinder paaji played a massive role in his development. Once the nets are over, all the kids will go home, his father will stay there and will bowl throw-downs to him for the next 30-45 minutes,” recalled Tunku.
“I have not taught him anything special. He was a god-gifted talent and his eagerness to learn things was also exceptional. He has improved every day and he is still improving,” said Tinku.
“Mai unki batting ka Mureed hun (I am a fan of Shubman Gill’s batting). Honhaar cricketer hai kaafi acha lagta hai usey khelta dekh kar (He is a talented cricketer and I enjoy watching him play),” said India captain Mohammad Azharuddin on Basit Ali’s YouTube channel.