For Prithvi Shaw, the goal for this season is simple - Be better
“I am expecting to be better than what I was last season. I just want to be a better version of myself as a good batter, as an athlete and as a good person,” said Shaw after his side, West Zone, got the better of East Zone in the Duleep Trophy semifinal at the Alur (I) Cricket Ground in Bengaluru on Thursday.
The 23-year-old batter had a middling game – 26 in the first innings and 25 in the second – which was played almost completely under overcast conditions, posing a stiff challenge to batters on both sides.
In the first innings, Shaw and his opening partner Priyank Panchal found the going tough, with Central pacers, led by skipper Shivam Mavi, who enjoyed prodigious movement. The duo could only score 17 runs in the first 10 overs, with the first boundary coming only in the seventh over, that too from an edge from Panchal’s bat.
“The conditions were difficult. We were playing in such difficult conditions after so long. I wouldn’t say it was seaming, but spinning for fast bowlers. We were being beaten by balls that were swinging balls moving at arm’s length. It was a really good challenge.
I think that was a personal record for me, in terms of playing so many balls and not scoring that many,” said Shaw sparking laughter around.
But in the second innings, West, with a 92-run first-innings lead in its boot, proceeded to be more adventurous in the start, with boundaries flowing in from both the openers.
“By the second innings, I understood that by defending, nothing was happening, so I went ahead and played my shots,” said Shaw.
A highlight of his second innings knock was the back-to-back uppercuts he hit against Mavi to provide West with the spark going ahead.
“I am not the kind of player who usually plays uppercuts or reverse sweeps. I have seen that in red ball matches, usually, there isn’t a third man. When a bowler is bowling a bouncer, they have a fielder at deep fine leg, but rarely one at third man. I thought it was a great opportunity to try that shot then, as the ball was new,” said Shaw.
Interestingly, this was Shaw’s first Duleep Trophy game, where he didn’t score a hundred. In four games in the competition, the Mumbai batter has accumulated 551 runs at an average of close to 80.
“I really like to play Duleep Trophy. I made my debut in this competition in 2017. Since then, whenever I have gotten a chance to play, I have. With everyone coming together, the energy is always great,” he said.
Shaw also underpinned his respect for the red ball game, saying how he valued the challenge it posed. “I really like red ball cricket. I feel it is the actual cricket. You get tested, particularly in conditions like this.”
Shaw came into the Duleep Trophy following an underwhelming IPL season with Delhi Capitals, where he scored just 106 runs in eight appearances, as his side failed to qualify for the playoffs.
“Yeah, this IPL didn’t go well. I think this is my first IPL where I haven’t clicked. I am not giving any reasons for that. Sometimes it happens. You can’t be perfect always. I try to work harder when something like this happens.
Those few innings [at the beginning of IPL 2023] went in a flash. I kept thinking about the first match, and the next three matches quickly passed. The best learning I have had from this IPL is, once a match is done, then I have to keep moving forward and not look back and be held back by what happened in the last game,” said Shaw.
Shaw’s last appearance for the national team came almost a year ago. But he is not one to alter his ways to change his fortunes.
“Personally, I feel I don’t have to change my game. I have to just be a little smarter than what I am. I can’t bat like [Cheteshwar] Pujara, sir, and he can’t bat like me. I don’t want to change how I am.”
With a wide array of games on his horizon, including the Duleep Trophy final, Shaw doesn’t want to prioritise a tournament in particular.
“All games are important to me. I am the kind of person who puts the team first. I have always done that. Sometimes you have to take a step back and then go forward. I believe good things will come your way if you do the right things at the right time,” he concluded.
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