Kolkata, Nov 1: A day after getting picked up in the T20I squad on the tour of New Zealand, young India batter Shubman Gill justified his selection by slamming his maiden T20 century in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at the iconic Eden Gardens.
The talented top-order batter smashed a 49-ball century for Punjab in the quarter-finals against Karnataka in the premier domestic T20 competition. Riding upon Gill's sensational knock of 126 off 55 balls, which was laced with 11 fours and 9 sixes, Punjab posted a massive 225 for 4 in 20 overs.
In pursuit of a big run chase, Mayank Agarwal-led Karnataka failed to get off to a good start. However, Manish Pandey (45), Abhinav Manohar (62*), Manoj Bhandage (25) and Krishnappa Gowtham (30*) brought their team tantalisingly close to the target as Karnataka lost by 9 runs.
Gill was adjudged the player of the match for his herculean knock and dominated Karnataka bowlers from the word go and his strike rate of 229 is a testimony to it. The 23-year-old cricketer from Fazilka (Punjab) made the most of the experience of playing at this venue during his stint with Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL.
While interacting with Oneindia Bangla after his superlative effort in the City of Joy, Gill claimed his experience of playing on the venue during the IPL did help him construct his innings well against Karnataka.
"I have played so many games in the past at Eden so I had an idea about how to build my innings. You have to spend time on the pitch here and (once you're set) you can score runs later. It was heartening that I could execute my plans well in the middle to slam a ton and play a match-winning knock. So it was a special knock," said Gill.
When asked about his selection in the T20I squad for the upcoming tour of New Zealand, where Hardik Pandya will be leading the Men in Blue, the stylish batter stated that playing for any Indian side is always a big motivation.
"Very happy with my selection in the T20I squad for the tour of New Zealand. It is always a big motivation when you get to play for any Indian side and I am looking forward to it," he added further.
Team India will be playing three T20Is and as many ODIs in New Zealand from November 18, which is five days after the conclusion of the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia.
Having impressed with his performances in the U-19 World Cup in 2018 which India won in Australia, Gill was purchased by Kolkata Knight Riders and the teenager made his IPL debut for the two-time champions. However, the relationship with KKR came to an end when he wasn't retained by KKR ahead of the IPL 2022 season. Gill was picked up by debutants Gujarat Titans and the opener played an important role in the Hardik Pandya-led side's title triumph.
After Gill posted an image of his practice video at iconic Eden Gardens on his social media handle, fans commented the talented cricketer to play for KKR again. When asked if he plans on returning to KKR in the future, the youngster said, "See, I had no intention of leaving the franchise in the first place. But the team management didn't retain me and I ended up joining Gujarat Titans and we became the winners. Nobody knows what the future holds, so let's see," he signed off.