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How IPL 2018 stint with Kolkata Knight Riders taught Shubman Gill to play under pressure

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KKR wasn’t the best team on paper but still finished third. How does it feel?

It feels very good. We weren’t the favourites at the start. Nobody was expecting us to do this well because it wasn’t a star-studded team. But we had a very good combination of overseas and young players. And we did really well, I think. Also, how DK bhai (Dinesh Karthik) captained the side was really good.

How has the last six months been -- from winning the World Cup to jam-packed crowd at the Eden?

Actually it’s been very good. We played our first match against RCB and it was kind of a new atmosphere for me to see 70,000 people chanting ‘KKR KKR’. I didn’t do well in my first two matches. But then I began to play a few knocks and get starts. There was the match against Chennai (where he got 57 not out) and also the last match against SRH (30 off 20 balls). With Carlos Brathwaite bowling at the death, I had the belief to see the team through but it didn’t go as I planned. You know, just a couple of metres and it would have been a six. It was a very good experience for me.

Was it easy with two more U-19 players at KKR?

Of course, there’s a level of comfort when you have your friends around because you know there will be some days when you will be low and you need them to be there to motivate you.

How different was it in terms of the coaching style?

I think it’s all about adapting to situations. Rahul (Dravid) sir never said ‘Don’t play reverse-sweeps’. It’s more about realising the situation and playing shots accordingly. And if your sweep or your scoop is your main shot, and you get runs from it, Rahul sir would never say no to it. It’s just about the situation you are in.

Experience of playing franchise-based cricket?

It was good. Was expecting a lot of pressure from the franchise but our franchise seems to be one of the nicest ones. I’ve heard a lot from other guys that there’s a lot of pressure from other franchises (on their players). But it was never anything like that from Shah Rukh (Khan) sir, Venky (Mysore) sir or Jay Mehta sir. It was always good from their side.

Biggest takeaway from the IPL...

This was a whole new experience for me. Like I said, the last match I played, I was never in a situation like this (before) where you need 19 runs off an over and everyone’s just counting on you. But I got to know a lot of new things like there’s so much pressure while you’re fielding and you have to take each and every ball very seriously. Also, I made a lot of new friends.

Your thoughts on getting picked for the India A side.

Of course it’s a very big opportunity for me. Last time I went to England, I did pretty well and I hope I’ll do well on this (tour) as well. This is like a new start for me. Hopefully if I do well, I might get chance in the main England series as well.

What did Rahul Dravid tell you about the transition to the senior squad? Do you feel you have it in you to go a notch higher?

After the World Cup, Rahul sir had a one-on-one talk with each individual for 30 minutes. And he asked me ‘Are you ready to deliver that particular knock on that particular day?’ I think it’s very important to be mentally ready and prepared. At this level, every batsman is ready to play shots. But it’s about how consistent you are and how much you believe in yourself (that takes you a step forward).


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