'His biggest advice was that you should try to become the best version of yourself; don't try to play like someone else.'
Shubman Gill reveals how he made the transition from Under-19, India 'A' and domestic cricket to the international level.
Rediff.com's Harish Kotian listens in.
Young batting sensation Shubman Gill revealed that India batting great Rahul Dravid played a big role in shaping his career.
The Punjab batsman played under the Dravid-coached India 'A' and India Under-19 teams in which he achieved much success. Gill said he owes a lot to the former India captain, who has now taken over as head of the National Cricket Academy.
"He had a lot of influence. I met him for the first time in 2016 and till now I am in touch with him. Rahul Sir has seen me from the start, he knows my game well and he knows how to shape my cricket. So he has looked after me well," the opener said at the launch of Cinthol's #TurnDownTheHeat programme in Mumbai on Wednesday, November 6, 2019.
The 20 year old shared Dravid's biggest advice to him. "His biggest advice was that you should try to become the best version of yourself; don't try to play like someone else."
Gill, who was part of India's Under-19 World Cup-winning team last year, has since raked up impressive numbers in every format of the game he has turned out in.
The right-hander averages an impressive 69 in 15 first class games, with a tally of 1,535 runs, including four centuries and nine fifties.
He recently became the youngest Indian cricketer to hit a first-class double century when he stroked an unbeaten 204 from 250 balls for India 'A' in the West Indies.
His consistent performances earned him a maiden call-up to the Indian Test team for the series against South Africa and the coming two-Test series against Bangladesh.
Even though he did not get a chance to play in any of the three Tests against South Africa, which India won 3-0, Gill says it was a huge learning experience for a youngster like him.
"You obviously get to learn a lot when you share the dressing room with such big players. You see how they prepare before the match and how much they focus before going out to bat during a match, how they pace their innings when they play in a match. So I got to learn those things," he said.
Gill's first tryst with international cricket wasn't too good. He played two One-Day Internationals in New Zealand earlier this year, but aggregated just 16 runs in two games. But the youngster is not perturbed; he believes it takes time to adjust to the highest level.
"I can't expect from myself that whenever I got out to bat I will score a century. Obviously, things take time. It was a good experience for me because we won the series and those wickets were tough too. I got to learn things like how to adjust to those conditions and how to absorb pressure."
For him, there is not a big difference between playing at the India 'A' or the Under-19 level and the Indian team.
"There is not much of a difference in the team atmosphere, just that the Indian team is the highest standard in international cricket. But game-wise there is not much difference; it only depends on how much you are prepared mentally for the highest level and how much you are willing to succeed. So there is difference mentally, but not much difference in the atmosphere," he said.
"When you play at the Under-19 or the age group level you don't get too many good deliveries, which you get at the senior level. So you have to focus more, mentally. You should constantly tell yourself that the way you scored runs at the Under-19 level, you won't get runs that easily at the senior level. And once you accept that and get set, then how you pace your innings that becomes very important," he added.