Jammu: For young Shubham Khajuria, who became only the second cricketer form the valley to earn a place in the India Under-19 squad, Gautam Gambhir played a key role in shaping up his career.
He credits the out-of-favour India left-hander for helping him evolve as an opener.
"There were some questions which I used to ask myself as an opener and Gautam Gambhir really helped me to find out answers to those," Shubham, who was selected in the India U-19 team to tour Sri Lanka later this month, stated.
"He (Gambhir) told me how to prepare for a big match and what mindset a player should carry to the field while opening the innings," said the 17-year-old lad from Jammu.
Shubham plays for ONGC in the off-season tournaments and it was there he got to meet the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gambhir and Virat Kohli.
"It always helps being in the company of players like Virender Sehwag and Gambhir. There is always a lot to learn from their experiences," said a confident Shubham, who was not surprised at his selection in the India U-19 team.
"It was not a surprise. If you look at my recent record in U-19, I was the highest run getter in the Cooch Behar Trophy with 707 runs, including three century knocks. So I knew I will get my opportunity," he added.
Shubham, a right-handed opening batsman, however does not forget to thank his coaches.
Asked about the influence former coach Bishan Singh Bedi has left on the Jammu and Kashmir team, Shubham said: "Bedi sir instilled an attitude of playing fearless cricket in us. He has been a great influence."
"Bedi sir taught us the mental aspect of the game. He stressed upon mental and physical fitness and that has helped us a lot. If you see every player has got some talent but it is these two aspects which differentiates best from the rest," said Shubham.
"Virender sir has been coaching me since I was eight or nine. He has been instrumental in my success. Whenever I am in doubt I rush to him for advice and he has always been welcoming," he said.
Shubham is a big fan of Suresh Raina, who had made a great impact on the youngster.
"His (Raina) passion for the game is amazing. His energy on the field and his fearless attitude...It is always great to see him playing.
"I was lucky to have spent 12 to 13 days with him at the NCA. It was really amazing," recalled the youngster, who has has already played three Ranji Trophy matches for his state apart from six List `A` and five T20 matches.
Asked about the selection of Parvez Rasool in the Indian team for the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe, Shubham said: "His selection has been a morale booster.
"It has opened the doors for other cricketers of the state. It has always been great playing alongside him and he has always been helpful," he said.
On whether he was disappointed to be left out of the U-19 Indian team which won the International Series in Darwin today, Shubham said: "It is a matter of chance and I waited for my turn patiently. The selectors have shown faith in me and I want to encash the opportunity."
Shubham, however, seemed unfazed by the lack of cricketing infrastructure in the state.
"For getting a good infrastructure first you need to reach to that level," quipped Shubham.
"BCCI provides a three-month camp at the NCA and that I believe is one of the best facilities to train at. Even the infrastructure in our state is not too bad. At the end of the day it depends upon an individual, how he takes up his chances," added Shubham, who had just cleared his class 12th exams.