Azharuddin's advice: Be patient with Prithvi

Judgement has to be reserved on the 18-year-old as he has just played a single knock in his international career so far, according to the former India captain.

Prithvi Shaw’s elegant century on Day One of the first Test against West Indies impressed Mohammad Azharuddin.   -  Vivek Bendre

Eighteen-year-old Prithvi Shaw played an elegant knock of 134 to begin his Test career, leading fans to term him as the next Tendulkar.

Former India captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, who also has the distinction of scoring a century on debut, believes judgement has to be reserved on the youngster as he had just played one innings. “It’s just been one performance. He has done a great job by scoring his first Test hundred at the age of 18; it is not an easy task. But I think jumping to conclusion and comparing is also not right,” Azharuddin tells Sportstar.

Difficult to compare

Azharuddin does not believe in comparisons. “All the cricketers come from different eras, so it is very difficult to draw a comparison between them. Everyone is good in their respective eras,” the former captain avers.

The cricketer-turned-politician also has a piece of advice for Shaw. “He should play his natural game. When you play your natural game, you end up scoring more times than not scoring. He should back his technique and that is very important. He might have failures down the line, but these are the things that happen to every cricketer,” he says, adding: “He should go out there and enjoy his game rather than bothering about all these things (comparisons).”

Shaw’s rise has been phenomenal. From scoring a 546 off just 300 balls for his school, Rizvi Springfield, in Harris Shield in 2014, the Mumbaikar scored centuries on Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy debuts. He even led India to title victory at the U-19 World Cup earlier this year. “I must give him all the credit for scoring a hundred and we should only talk about his quality and look at the positives now,” Azharuddin says.

Selectors’ duty

While Shaw has been one of the major success stories, Indian cricket has recently found itself in middle of a controversy, with some of the senior players like M. Vijay and Karun Nair alleging that the national selectors did not communicate with them about their exclusion. Ahead of the first Test, even captain, Virat Kohli had distanced himself from the muddle, saying that it is the job of the selectors. And Azharuddin believes that Kohli “should stay away from all these things.”

“Selecting a team is after all a selector’s duty. I know captain also sits in the meeting but then, it is up to the selectors, how they handle the players. I don’t know if they have spoken to the players. The players are complaining that they haven’t been communicated but since I am not a party to it, I don’t have much information,” he says.

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“As far as Virat’s performance as a captain is concerned, nobody should doubt that. He has been doing so well. The only important series for him will be that of Australia. If he can do well there, it will be really good for him. He has got a sound mind,, hopefully he will deliver in Australia,” the former captain, who will soon work as the mentor of Goa’s State teams for Ranji Trophy and U-19 tournaments, says.

'Poor side'

Azharuddin labels the current West Indies attack . “West Indies is a very poor side. They have got talented players, but they should be told how to play in different conditions,” he says.

With Kuldeep Yadav and R. Ashwin calling the shots, the Caribbean cricketers looked clueless in the middle. “When you play spinners like Kuldeep, you should watch the hand (wrist) and play accordingly. But these guys are not doing that and are facing problems. When you face this type of games, it is important to note how the ball is being delivered — whether it is leg-spin or a flipper. Once you figure it out, it becomes easy,” he says.

India had a poor Test outing in England and the meek surrender had raised questions on whether captain Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri should continue with their roles. But Azharuddin is not too bothered about it. “It is true that we did not have a very good series in England but…” he says, and after a pause, sums it up, rather bluntly: “I think people have very short memory.”