Life has come a full circle for the boy from Fazilka, Punjab as he seeks to start his senior career from the very same place, where he first grabbed eyeballs.
Shubman Gill, the 19-year-old, who perhaps overshadowed the much fancied Prithvi Shaw with his timing, temperament and runs in the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand in 2018 is now going back to Kiwiland and this time with the senior team.
With 1,089 runs from nine first-class matches and 1,529 from 36 List A games, Gill was only getting better with every passing match. While records don't mean anything people would say, Gill almost managed to do something that no Indian ever did -- score 1,000 runs under nine matches. He couldn't however as his tally was 990 from 14 innings but he had announced himself among the big boys and constantly knocking on the doors of the national selectors.
And call it luck or just rewards for good cricket and hard work, Gill earned his maiden call-up late on Saturday night for the returning KL Rahul, who has been suspended pending inquiry by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from playing all forms of cricket over some inappropriate comments made on women during celebrity talk-show Koffee With Karan.
And, Gill at first couldn't believe his luck.
"It was a surprise call-up for me. I was just going to sleep and suddenly at around 1 AM, I got messages from reporters saying that I've been selected and then I opened one of the WhatsApp messages and then I saw me and Vijay Shankar are replacing KL Rahul and Hardik Pandya. For the first 15-20 seconds, I was in a state of shock.
"After that, I went and told my father. For the first 10-15 minutes, I thought this is more of an expectation type but not the sure one but after a while, I read a few articles on the internet that it is official. So, my father also saw. So, really feeling good," said an upbeat Gill in an exclusive telephonic conversation with Indiatvnews.com early Sunday morning.
In his short time in the limelight, Gill has shared the dressing room with some of the biggest names. He has played with Yuvraj Singh for Punjab and the likes of Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but the prospect of rubbing shoulders with Team India captain Virat Kohli and stalwart Mahendra Singh Dhoni excites him like nothing else.
"I'm really excited to share the dressing room with them and I even spoke to Prithvi during the Test series (versus West Indies) and he said all of them are really nice.
"There presence will help me. DK bhaiya ne mujhe message bhi kia tha (Dinesh Karthik had messaged me)," said the 19-year-old, who has constantly been taking calls for a while.
But, Shubman much like his first stint at KKR, could face a different challenge. Most of his runs have come as an opener or first down but with India already a settled unit up top, and if an opportunity arises, it will be in the middle-order.
Gill has scored at an average of 77.78 in first-class cricket and 86.18 in first-class and that perhaps worked in his favour when the selectors decided to send in a replacement but much as he did with KKR -- grab the opportunities with both hands -- he expects to the same with the Indian national team and give his best shot wherever he bats.
"If I get an opportunity, I'm ready to bat at any number but given the preference. Then I'll say I'm an opener but if I'm given an opportunity at No.4 or No.5, then I'm ready to bat at that position," Gill said.
And why wouldn't he? A week ago what felt like dream, could now be a reality and for that, he is ready to push his case in the upcoming months.
"If I get an opportunity and make it to the XI and do well for the team and the country, then there are chances that I might make the World Cup squad," he said when asked if he now wants to push for a ticket to England later in the summer.
Whether he gets there or not remains to be seen but the fact that selectors are watching and his hard work has paid off, will give him immense confidence and if not a game in New Zealand, he will at least have some valuable lessons from few of the best in business.