From winning the Player of the Series award in the Under-19 World Cup triumph to being recruited in the Test set-up, Shubman Gill has taken giant strides in the game in the last 18 months.In between, he made his ODI debut in the tough conditions of New Zealand, set the Indian Premier League (IPL) on fire with his orthodox style of batting and scored dozens of runs in domestic and India A series.Coupled with the poor form of India’s regular Test openers along with Prithvi Shaw’s suspension, Gill received his maiden Test call-up (finally!) for the series against South Africa; a reward for his immense dedication and his ability to back himself by playing his natural game in the subcontinent and overseas.KL Rahul Dropped, Shubman Gill Named in Indian Test Squad vs SAA Call-Up Was on the CardsEven as the world stood up to applaud the ‘next Sachin Tendulkar’ aka Shaw in the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand last year, Gill quietly went about his business ending as India’s best batter with 372 runs in just 5 innings.Averaging 124 and striking the ball at 112, Gill managed to announce his arrival in style, forcing the cricketing realm to earmark him as a man for the future. His talent, skills, his panache even when the ball was swinging, along with that effortless cover drive forced IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders to bag him in the auctions.Silencing the naysayers, who doubted the youngster’s ability to fare well in a league where big hits are the norm, Gill stuck to his natural game and managed just over 200 runs in 13 innings in 2018, striking the ball at 146.04.Displaying immaculate grit and technique, Gill soon emerged as Virat Kohli’s shadow – a player who could switch between attacks and play according to the situation. His wrist work was reminiscent of the skipper’s; his mature mindset even at the ripe age of 20, uncannily similar to guru Rahul Dravid’s, who has had a huge role to play in the blossoming of the prodigy.Honour to Represent India, Says Shubman Gill After Test Selection“I learnt how to handle success and failures from Dravid sir. At times when a youngster reaches the highest level, he starts taking it easy and doesn’t work as hard in the nets as earlier. I feel it’s important to take the additional effort in other aspects but you cannot compromise on your basic work ethic if you have to sustain at a higher level,” he revealed in an interview.And that is just what Gill went on to do.Working on his game day in and day out, he made the transition from junior cricket to the higher league with effortless ease, stamping his authority in all tournaments that he was given a chance in.Even when he was pushed down the order for KKR, a position ill-suited for him, the Punjab star refused to make excuses and lapped up the opportunities given to him. He continued his purple patch in the 2018-19 Ranji season, scoring 728 runs in five games, with his notable contributions being his high score of 268 and a fine 148 that came in 154 balls when Punjab needed 338 runs to win from 57 overs. His side could eventually muster up 324 for 8, and though the win eluded them, Gill was here to stay.However, his first major blip – if it can be called that – came when he failed to translate his truckload of runs made in the domestic scene into the international space.While his ODI debut was hyped, with fanatics even calling him to make the team to the World Cup that was five months later, Gill failed to get going against New Zealand earlier this year, scoring only 16 runs in two opportunities. He has not played any game for India since then.And this is where Gill’s tenacity came to the fore.Taking it as a stumbling block, the right-hander went back to doing what he knew best – grind it out and score lots and lots of runs, till it became impossible to ignore him, his efforts and the value that he would add to the side.Even though KKR utilised him in a shambolic manner in this year’s IPL, Gill went on to amass close to 300 runs, with three fifties, to eventually win the Emerging Player’s award.The World Cup dream was not fulfilled, and though he had piled on runs in the A tours, the selectors ignored him for the subsequent ODI series against West Indies. Disappointed, but not one to lose hope, the youngster kept his chin up and scored a fine 90 against South Africa A just this week – knock that forced the selectors to give him a go; an innings that could well be the one that changed his career forever.Shubman Gill Picked in Test Squad: Big Career Stats So FarA Stern Test Awaits GillAs mentioned earlier, Gill’s call-up had a lot to do with the dismal run of India’s openers in the longest format in the past few months. Since September 2018, India’s openers have averaged 29.88, which falls to 22.86 abroad. This is only the sixth best in the world, with even a team like England, whose opening woes since the retirement of Alastair Cook are well documented, faring better.While Mayank Agarwal has raised his hands up, KL Rahul seemed a lost ship in the storm, finding it tough to navigate the bouncers or the swinging deliveries. Since his 149 against England at The Oval last year, Rahul failed to notch even a single fifty in 12 innings, scoring seven single-digit scores in the interim. The selectors, finally had enough.Though it is unlikely that Gill will play against South Africa straightaway – the selectors are keen to try Rohit as the opening batsman in the upcoming series – there is no denying that Gill will get his chances sooner than later. A responsible batsman, who looks far more settled than most, it is his tremendous temperament and his composed approach that has won plaudits, and if he can hold on to those traits, Gill can be one of the finest.(Sarah Waris is a postgraduate in English Literature has taken on the tough task of limiting the mystic world of cricket to a few hundred words.) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.