Prithvi Shaw: India's 18-year-old gem

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.

0702It isn’t for no reason at all that cricket experts, commentators, 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 the Indian Senior National Team call up. Shaw made his mark with his outstanding performance in the Harris Shield Tournament. 15-year old Shaw 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 a 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 brilliances, 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 performace.

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 some day 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 quickly he dons the Indian senior national team jersey and for how long he represents the nation when given the chance at the highest level.

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 so far, Shaw has been able to find himself a bidder in the IPL Auctions. Shaw will don the Delhi Daredevils (DD) jersey this season and was taken, earlier this year in the auction, by the DD for 1.2 crore rupees, an opportunity to experience with the best in the world.   

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.