Child prodigy to Test opener: Shaw's coming of age

The Test cap will be a giant leap in his career but Shaw will realise that it's just the beginning of what he would hope to be a long journey.

His ascent has meant Shaw has left his rigorous commute in Mumbai's local trains from far-off suburbs to the maidans for pursuing his passion.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

Almost 21 months ago, on a pre-match day, Prithvi Shaw was a shy teenager at the nets of the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.

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Having been called up to Mumbai's squad, as a possible solution to the domestic giant's opening woes in 2016-17, Shaw, having turned only 17 weeks earlier, appeared to have been lost in the big boys' league.

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Sensing his anxiety, then Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit was like friend, philosopher and guide to him ahead of the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Tamil Nadu.

The diminutive dasher took time to settle in, even showing his nerves with an early dismissal in the first innings before marking his first-class debut with a classy hundred in the second.

'Chhotu's' giant strides

Cut to Wednesday and Shaw was in a familiar territory. Despite being assured of his maiden India cap during the series-opener against West Indies, Shaw was far from his jittery self.

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He was given a break from the batting stint by the coaching staff. A month shy of turning 19, Shaw knocked the ball around while the likes of captain Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and K.L. Rahul, who would be Shaw's opening partner on Thursday, batted in the adjacent nets.

Later on, he even rolled his arm with part-time off-spin, incidentally to Mayank Agarwal, with who he has teamed up for India A in a healthy battle for the Team India's opening slot.

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All along the net session, Shaw cut a confident figure. The positive body-language wasn't unexpected considering the rapid strides Shaw has made in the last couple of years.

The first-class debut hundred was followed by a century on Duleep Trophy debut last September. Then came his first full Ranji season where he enhanced his reputation with three hundreds in different conditions.

Although he failed to repeat Sachin Tendulkar's feat —yet another teenager to add Irani Cup to the list of debut hundreds — he made up for it by leading India Under-19 to World Cup glory earlier this year.

The scoring spree continued for India 'A', be it against tougher oppositions at home or in the challenging conditions in England.

His ascent has meant Shaw has left his rigorous commute in Mumbai's local trains from far-off suburbs to the maidans for pursuing his passion.

The Test cap will be a giant leap in his career but Chhotu – as he is referred to in all the dressing rooms – will realise that it's just the beginning of what he would hope to be a long journey.