At the tender age of 18, Prithvi Shaw is showing that a knock on the doors of the Indian team may not be very far away. He is an opener, plays with a vertical bat and has a huge appetite for runs. The Mumbai batsman grabbed eyeballs during his debut Ranji Trophy game, where he scored a match-winning hundred. That the match was a semi-final only accentuated the worth of his contribution, although the knock wasn’t without its share of drama. When Shaw was on 99, he was caught at gully by Tamil Nadu’s B Indrajith, but fortunately for him, Vijay Shankar, the bowler, had overstepped. Shaw had another chance to complete his century, and the young lad didn’t waste the opportunity. This was not the first time that he had made waves. In 2013, Shaw had scored a staggering 546 runs in a Harris Shield game, and thus broken the record for the highest score in Indian minor cricket.
His selection in the Mumbai team had a touch of fortune about it. Mumbai’s regular opener, Akhil Herwadkar, was injured, and the team had tried three replacements without much success. That’s when Mumbai’s chairman of selectors, Milind Rege, decided to ring up Rahul Dravid (who had seen Shaw play for the India Under 19 team) and ask for his advice. Dravid gave Shaw a thumbs up, and the teenager got an opportunity to prove his mettle.
In the Ranji Trophy final, Shaw displayed his fine skills by scoring 71 in the first innings and a quickfire 35-ball 44 in the second innings. Unfortunately, he couldn’t take his team to victory, but that didn’t stop him from getting noticed. It remains to be seen whether the selectors invest in him right away, or wait for a few more seasons to see if he can sustain the rigours of domestic cricket. It makes sense to track his performance in a few more games, and then give him a shot on the international stage to see if he has the skills to play for India for an extended period. Right now, it’s important for him to stay calm and just focus on getting big runs. A lot of attention can sometimes break a player, and it’s vital that Shaw retains his humility and doesn’t let the praise translate into arrogance. It will also be interesting to see his performance in this year’s IPL, since chances are high that some team will pick him up. With T20 becoming as important as the other formats, Shaw will be intent on honing his six-hitting skills. That doesn’t mean he should let his defensive game suffer, though.
Like many other cricketers, Shaw’s story has been that of rags to riches and not without its share of setbacks. He lost his mother at the age of four, something that would have made his childhood an extremely tough phase to go through. Years later, Shaw’s prowess with the bat earned him some generous sponsorships, and he even got a chance to travel to England to play cricket. Shaw has made every opportunity count, and it perhaps won’t be long before we see him in a Team India jersey.