Shubman Gill gets maiden India cap from MS Dhoni as India’s 227th ODI debutant
Shubman Gill, 19, receives his first ODI cap from MS Dhoni at Seddon Park. (Image: @BCCI twitter)

The absence of Virat Kohli, on a break after the long tour of Australia and three ODIs in New Zealand, has opened up a maiden international appearance for teenage batting sensation Shubman Gill, who was handed his first ODI cap by MS Dhoni ahead of the toss for the fourth game versus New Zealand.

This makes Gill the 227th Indian cricketer to receive an India cap in ODIs.  (READ MORE: No better place to debut than New Zealand: Gill)

Gill, who helped India Under-19s win the junior World Cup a year ago in New Zealand, will bat at No 3 in Kohli’s absence Hamilton’s Seddon Park. (READ MORE: Shubman Gill debut looms as New Zealand chase respectability)

The 19-year-old, who has had a phenomenal run in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season, earned his maiden ODI call-up for the series against New Zealand. Gill, who was named Player of the Tournament in India’s successful ICC U-19 World Cup campaign in New Zealand last year, has a List A batting average of 47.78 after 36 innings with four centuries and seven half-centuries. (READ MORE: All you need to know about Shubman Gill)

The last year has seen Gill take giant strides. The Mohali-based batsman followed his U-19 captain Prithvi Shaw to make the Indian team, albeit in the shorter formats, after a dream 2018 in which he bagged a lucrative IPL contract following a stellar junior World Cup and made 790 runs in 10 innings at 98.75 in Punjab’s Ranji Trophy campaign. In nine List A matches for India A, he scored 365 runs at 45.62 with three fifties.

When announcing that Gill was added to India’s squad for the tour, the chief selector MSK Prasad highlighted the teenager’s flexibility opening the innings and batting in the middle order. For the New Zealand series, we are looking at him as the reserve opener behind Shikhar (Dhawan) and Rohit (Sharma),” Prasad said. “I won’t comment if he will make it to World Cup but he was phenomenal as an opener for India A in New Zealand,” said Prasad. “We have discussed with Rahul (Dravid, the A team coach) that Shubman is ready for international cricket.”

Ready he is, and Thursday marks the most special day of young Gill’s career.