Prithvi Shaw is not the first young Mumbai batsman to get heads turning in cricket, and most certainly won’t be the last. A precocious child prodigy, Shaw has been created a bit of a stir in the Indian cricketing fraternity with a manic display of batting in Mumbai’s Harris Shield as a mere 14-year-old – an unprecendented 546, the highest score in any competitive cricket at the time in more than a century until surpassed by one Pranav Dhanawade in 2016. Since then, he has been closely watched by several talent scouts in the Indian cricketing circuit. He hasn’t disappointed the expectant aficionados of the game either, scoring truckloads of runs in school cricket and forcing his way up the ranks of junior cricket with the sheer weight of runs.
His Harris shield performance was followed by several others of note, including centuries on debut in both Ranji Trophy (2016-17) and Duleep Trophy (2017) – a feat only previously achieved only by the Great Sachin Tendulkar, thereby drawing comparisons of great magnitude with the little master and being hailed as one of the future batting mainstays of Indian cricket. After skyrocketing through grade- and age-level cricket, he was declared the captain of the Indian U-19 side for the 2018 Junior World Cup in New Zealand. With a capable leader in Shaw, a stellar bowling line-up, and under the keen eye of Rahul Dravid, India coasted to the title, as Shaw contributed handsomely with the bat, scoring 261 runs at an average of 65 with 2 fifties to his name.
Having lost his mother at a young age, Shaw’s responsibility fell entirely on his father, Pankaj Shaw, who gave up his business and moved to Mumbai from Virar in 2006 in a bid to get Shaw closer to the MIG ground in Bandra. In 2010, retired Mumbai spinner Nilesh Kulkarni spotted Shaw and got his sports management company to sign him up for INR 300,000 per annum. The off-field battles have hardened young Shaw at a tender age and he has clearly carried the latent mental toughness into cricket which have translated into truckloads of runs at the first-class level.
Shaw was invited to play in the school circuit in England, and scored 1446 runs over a two-month period. Given the weight of runs, he knocked down the door into the realm of junior cricket in India and continued his rise up the ranks.Shaw has a god-gifted prowess of timing the cricket ball – with a low grip, and an extremely bottom-handed technique to go with a flourishing bat-swing reminiscent of a wizard brandishing a wand. An absolute joy when on song, Shaw has a penchant for timing the ball, a cool head on his shoulders, and a back-and-across trigger to aid his backfoot play, which can be a terrific gift when batting in bouncier conditions such as Australia. At a young age, his wizardry through the covers has turned out to be his Achilles’ heel too, though he has ample time to work on his flaws. He has been bowled through the gate on a number of occasions as he has opened himself to drive through the off-side even when the ball is aimed at the stumps – particularly due to his backlift coming down from gully into a hands-through-the-ball drive, rather than a check-drive from first slip, leaving an inherent gap between his bat and pad for the ball to go through.
His stellar stroke-play, formidable footwork, and immaculate consistency made him play A division cricket at a tender age of 8-9. Unlike many Indian cricketers, he is decent against short-pitched bowling, though the quicker pitches in Australia are likely to test him more – particularly given his side-on stance which gives him a fraction of a second less to swivel into pull or hook shots. He is a bottom-handed player which allows him to be a fearsome cuter and effective puller, in general giving him lightning bat-speed through the line of the ball. Perhaps check-driving is an art he will need to learn in conditions conducive to late movement, such as England, but once again, he has ample time to iron over the flaws in his batting, and I daresay, his fielding which has been below average in the initial phase of his career.
Shaw has shown unprecedented hunger for runs at every level of cricket he has played and has been touted as the next big thing in the Indian cricket after Virat Kohli. The immense potential and consistent performance at the first-class level, and the fact that he has remained unphased through the adulation, earned him a spot in the Indian Test squad in England for the last two Test matches. Despite not making it through to the playing XI of either game, his wait finally came to an end as he debuted against the Windies in Rajkot on October 4th 2018, immediately scoring a swift 99-ball hundred against a potent bowling line-up and making a seamless transition into the grueling world of Test cricket. With the correct guidance, enough chances, as well as a judicious distribution of his workload, he may well be his own batting prodigy, who could make the cricketing world bow down to him in the years to come.
IPL through the years
Prithvi Shaw for long has been touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket and judging by that Delhi bought him at an excellent price of 1.2 Crores. Initially, he wasn’t getting an opportunity to be a part of the playing eleven but the poor form of Gautam Gambhir opened the door for Shaw. He made most of his opportunities and got Delhi off to brisk starts on most occasions.
He started off well with a 10-ball 22 and a flurry of aggressive innings over the course of the season and ended up cementing his spot in the side, running riot in the powerplay, before Rishabh Pant could cut loose at the death. Shaw will look to replicate those performances when he will churn out for Delhi this year.