Often prophesized as the “next big thing in Indian Cricket”, there is a lot of hype around the 18-year-old Mumbai boy Prithvi Shaw. When Prithvi Shaw faced New Zealand for India Board President’s XI in 2017, despite what Shaw had achieved in domestic cricket earlier, hardly anyone thought that Shaw would look as comfortable as he eventually did facing the Kiwi bowlers, including the duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee, on his way to a decent innings of 66 runs. The innings left Boult all in praise for the then 17- year old.
It isn’t for no reason at all that cricket experts, commentators, a bunch of people at a Chaiwala Shop and almost everyone who has followed Shaw’s scarcely believable achievements, believe that Shaw is not too far away from becoming the regular member of the Senior Indian National Team. Shaw made his mark with his outstanding performance in the Harris Shield Tournament. 15-year old Mumbaikar made 546 runs in an innings playing for Rizvi Springfield and created a national record. His innings comprised of 85 boundaries and 5 sixes, and Shaw was the first to score 500 runs in any official inter-school match in the history of the game. This innings came at the same tournament which had helped Sachin Tendulkar make a national headline when he along with Vinod Kambli made a record-breaking partnership of 664 runs.
Shaw, it seems, is destined to follow Sachin’s path. In his Duleep Trophy debut in September 2017, Shaw scored 154, becoming the only cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar to score a century in his first match in Duleep Trophy. Through this knock, Shaw also became the second youngest to score a century in Duleep Trophy, second only to Tendulkar again. With a string of consistent batting brilliance, Shaw was soon selected for the Ranji Trophy side and again scored a fantastic century on debut against Tamil Nadu and winning the man of the match for his exquisite batting performance.
However, Shaw even went on to get a Hundred on Test debut- something that even the great Tendulkar couldn’t achieve when he donned the National Team Jersey for the first time. A century in the first match followed by a quickfire half-century in the next match has suddenly elevated his status as a batsman. All around the cricketing globe, people are in awe of Shaw’s brilliance with the bat, and the fact that he has arrived in grand style even in the International Cricket circuit. Although it helped that the opposition was West Indies in both the games- a team that was playing without their regular captain and their best bowler on tour, it was still important to get those runs and show his temperament at the big stage, which he did with ease and grace.
In a cricket crazy country like India where thousands of aspiring cricketers turn up for practice with a hope to play at the highest level someday and make the country proud, where it helps to have great role models and ambassadors of the sport from your own country with stories to inspire generations of kids to take up the sport and excel in it, how does it feel to be a Prithvi Shaw, how easy it is to get carried away by all this attention and lose the plot, and how difficult to take it one game at a time and wait for his turn to live his dream. As a batsman, Shaw has shown great temperament on the cricket pitch, but it would be more to do with what mindset he prepares for the match and what he tells himself before going to bat in the middle that will determine how regularly he dons the Indian senior national team jersey and for how long he represents the national team.
Shaw led the Under 19 World Cup squad in New Zealand and made a mark in the tournament both as a leader, marshalling his resources to perfection and eventually lifting the trophy, and as a batsman scoring two splendid half-centuries and a couple of 40s. Shaw became the fourth U-19 World Cup winning captain of India after Mohammed Kaif, Virat Kohli and Unmukt Chand. But as his coach of the U-19 team, Rahul Dravid said that this should not be his or any of the promising youngsters’ career-defining moment and hopefully, young Shaw will have many such coveted trophies representing the Senior National Team. With his fair bit of success, Shaw was drafted into the Delhi Daredevils squad in the IPL Auctions and was effective from the moment he had got into the playing 11.
With cricketers like Shaw and the likes of Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi etc. the future of Indian cricket seems to be extremely bright. But it is the right attitude towards the game that can make a difference, long after Shaw has hung up his boots, between a talented cricketer who could have achieved bigger things or a veteran batsman with an impeccable record.