The last few weeks have been challenging for Prithvi Shaw. Despite some steady starts for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, the opening batter failed to convert them into big scores.
Even though he had scored a half-century in the third game against Saurashtra a couple of weeks back, the pressure was mounting on the 23-year-old.
He came into the game against Assam with just 168 runs in seven innings, at an average of 22.85, but delivered when it mattered.
At the Amingaon Cricket Ground on Tuesday, Shaw slammed his career-best First-Class score of 240 off 283 deliveries and put Mumbai in the driver’s seat.
After dominating the Assam bowlers throughout the day, Shaw spoke exclusively to Sportstar on how the innings panned out and also revealed how he has managed to ‘cut the outside noise’ and focus on his game.
You kissed your bat and raised your fist in the air soon after reaching the 200-run mark. How did it feel?
Thoda achha laga (felt a bit good) because the last few innings did not go that well, so obviously, the idea was to hang in there and spend as much time as possible at the crease. I just did that and followed the process jo pehle karta tha… I did not think too much about anything and just tried to be present in the present.
When I don’t score, I stay quite calm. Now, I feel good because patience and hard work have paid off.
I have realised that when your chips are down, if you can look back and think about the old days and revisit the process you once followed, your body automatically responds to it. When runs don’t come your way, you end up spending time at the gym, doing a bit of running sessions and all that helped. If your body is in good shape, you can eventually spend more time at the wicket.
In the previous four games, you failed to convert the good starts. So, this time around, did you change the approach?
The approach was same. I was batting well, but it’s just that I was not being able to convert the starts into a big score. It happens at times in the life of a cricketer when you play well, but end up making small mistakes, which cost you dearly. So, I worked on those little errors and would watch old batting videos to bring back the confidence. It’s not that I am confident, but there are times when you tend to look back at the old times and visualise ‘ ke main pehle kya karta tha’ and how do I get better.
Could you identify and address those ‘little errors’?
The process was the same, but I decided to take out time for myself and start writing down my thoughts on how the day went in a dairy and I keep writing every little things regularly. I have been trying to maintain that and take a note of how things are going and what more can I do going forward to improve my game. That has helped me to be in a good head space. The mind is fresh.
Every time you walk out to bat, the expectations are high. How do you handle the mental aspect when things don’t go your way?
I have realised that whenever you score runs, you are on top of the world. But when you don’t score then people will come after you. Expectations kaafi rehte hai when you score regularly, so when you suddenly get out early in three or four innings, people start thinking ‘ yaar, yeh hai woh hai’.
Only you know whether you are following the process, or whether you are being disciplined more than before, are you sleeping on time, eating well before a game. All those things matter. I am just trying to follow those things and I am trying to spend time alone as much as possible. I cut out the outside noise - be it on social media or in other platforms. I try to avoid those things or at times, just ask my manager to handle social media activities. I have brand commitments, and that’s why it is not possible to stay away from social media, and thus, you eventually end up seeing what’s being written or spoken about. But I am still trying to cut out the noise as much as possible.
People are talking about you and then will continue doing the same even after 10 years, so you should not think too much about it, because if you start reading too much between the lines, you will be affecting yourself.
How do you deal with criticism or trolling on social media?
(Smiles) What can I do? Sidha ignore kar deta hoon (I just ignore). I am not a person who loves talking negative things about people. At times, it hurts when you see or come across things about you that are not correct. But you need to take things in your stride and follow your own process. As long as I am okay with my performance and how I deal with my life, I don’t worry about what’s being written or spoken about. Agar main sahi hoon (if I am right), then if someone is saying something on social media, mujhe koi farak nahi padta (it does not bother me).
Today, you forged an unbroken 200-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane. You have played with him for a long time, so when things were looking difficult, what are the conversations you had with him?
When I was getting out for 30 or 40, every member of the team - including Amol (Muzumdar) sir, Ajju bhai (Rahane) - backed me and boosted my confidence. And trust me that backing immensely helped because I told myself that when so many people have faith and confidence in me, why can’t I deliver?
Whenever Ajju bhai and I bat, we love to exchange ideas and talk about how we should approach, or how we should tighten up things. He encourages and acknowledges my opinion as well. Ajju bhai is someone who will come and tell you in case he feels that some things are not going right, and that helps.
It appears to be a flat deck. How do you plan to approach your game on the second day, given the fact that Mumbai is already in the driver’s seat?
Tomorrow, the first session will be very crucial. The first 10 overs to be honest. They have just taken the new ball, so it will move. The ball was turning a bit in the second and third session today and was keeping low as well. Today, towards the end, it got a bit difficult to score because the ball had gotten a bit softer, so we had to wait for loose deliveries.
But we are playing well and we need to continue with that. We will play ball-by-ball and not think too far away. The target will be to play within the ‘V’ because cross-batted shots won’t work here. So, we need to play to our strengths and beat the fielder. We will continue doing that tomorrow.
You are just 60 runs away from scoring a triple-century. Will that be playing on in your mind?
(Laughs) I will just go out and bat, baaki dekhenge kya hota hai (rest we will see)…