Kolkata Knight Riders captain Dinesh Karthik has hailed young under-19 batsman Shubman Gill as a special talent after the teenager played a pivotal role in guiding KKR to a clinical six-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings on Thursday night. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)
Gill, a star of India's 2018 Under-19 World Cup winning campaign, scored an unbeaten 57 off 36 balls, including six fours and two sixes, as Kolkata finished on 180/4 with 14 balls to spare in reply to Chennai's 177/5. (IPL 2018 POINTS TABLE)
The 18-year-old Gill also put on an unbroken 83 off 36 deliveries for the fifth wicket with skipper Karthik to see his team home.
Karthik credited the KKR franchise for picking up quite a few U-19 players in their squad and said that he can see Gill representing India for a long time.
"Credit to the franchisee. They picked lot of under-19 players. They are really skilled players. It's little harsh on him (Gill). The number of times, he's been able to hit boundary off the first ball. That boy is special," Karthik said after the match.
"I don't want to hype it up and put extra pressure on him. I can see a lot of years of India Blues in him," he added.
KKR did not get off to the best start. Chris Lynn (12) smacked Lungi Ngidi for two sixes in the first over but was then caught at slip off the same bowler.
Robin Uthappa also went cheaply before Sunil Narine made 32 off 20 balls and Gill, promoted to number four, took the game away from CSK.
Gill, the second highest run-getter at this year's Under-19 World Cup won by India, was given good support by Karthik who produced a typically swashbuckling 45 not out off 18 balls, hitting seven fours and a six as Kolkata climbed to third in the standings with its fifth victory of the season.
"I was pleased to be promoted today. It was crucial to see off the spinners and we rotated the strike well. This is what I discussed with DK (Karthik)," Gill said.