Despite distractions before the Ranji match, the 17-year-old stayed focused to score another ton against Ashwin’s Tamil Nadu.
It wasn’t easy for the Mumbai selectors headed by Milind Rege to include 17-year-old Prithvi Shaw in the side earlier this year. Fresh in their memories were the instances of Sarafraz Khan and Armaan Jaffer before him, who failed to translate success to senior level at young age.
Armaan scored just 44 runs in three Ranji games last year and Sarafraz had to shift to his native state of Uttar Pradesh as he was not a certainty in the Mumbai team. But Rege and then Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit took the risk to draft in Shaw for the crucial semi-final against Tamil Nadu in Rajkot this January after opener Kevin d’Almeida was not doing well.
The Santacruz lad vindicated the faith showed in him with a ton on debut, which helped Mumbai beat Tamil Nadu and qualify for the final. The young batting sensation reminded us of his tremendous potential yet again by slamming his second first-class ton (123) against Tamil Nadu on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group C match at Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) Bandra Kurla Complex ground on Tuesday.
Recalling the circumstances in which young Shaw was drafted into the Mumbai team in a crucial semi-final, former MCA vice-president Dilip Vengsarkar said, “Milind Rege and Chandrakant Pandit asked me who should we take. They said he (Shaw) is too young but he was given an opportunity and in the first game, he scored a hundred.”
The selectors and coach had given Shaw time to grow as a cricketer and learn from the senior players. There was no pressure on him to perform, but he is delivering immediately.
Shaw’s build-up to the first Ranji game of the season was not great. He was not included in the U-19 Indian Asia Cup squad to enable him to play in the Ranji Trophy. The debate grew on which is better — playing for the India junior team or in the Ranji Trophy. Shaw was perhaps too young to understand what is good for him.
A day prior to the Ranji Trophy game, Shaw recieved the Junior Cricketer of the Year award at the Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai Golden Jubilee awards ceremony at the Bombay Gymkhana here.
Former India skipper and ex-chairman of selectors Vengsarkar’s advice seemed to have come at right time for Shaw. “I have not watched Prithvi much but heard so much of him, that he is a good player and has tremendous potential,” said Vengsarkar. “Consistency is important and you have to play every match as your first match and don’t look at short cuts. You are a young cricketer and there is money in the game so that can be disruptive. So stay focused,” Vengsarkar told Shaw a day prior to his game.
Shaw’s century on Tuesday was even more special as it came against an attack that had current World No 4 bowler in the ICC Test rankings, Ravichandran Ashwin leading the charge.
But India U-19 coach Rahul Dravid reportedly made it clear that Shaw figures in U-19 World Cup plans scheduled to be held in New Zealand in January. Dravid later went on to say that “playing too much of Under-19 is dangerous.”
Shaw had scored a hundred (154) on his Duleep Trophy debut and was included in the Board President’s XI against New Zealand played on October 17 and 19, due to which he missed the first Ranji Trophy game against Madhya Pradesh in Indore. He scored 66 off 78 balls, to help Board President’s XI comfortably beat the Kiwis by 30 runs in their opening warm-up game. New Zealand speedster Trent Boult, who rattled India in the first ODI at Wankkhede by taking four wickets, was impressed with Shaw in warm-up game and predicted a promising career for the Mumbai youngster.
Shaw was the top-scorer even as Shreyas Iyer (57) and skipper Aditya Tare (53) scored half-centuries as Mumbai put up 374 on the board in their first innings against Tamil Nadu.