Prithvi Shaw took a small but significant step in his pursuit to qualify for the highest league of cricket. In his debut Duleep Trophy match, the 17-year-old from Mumbai, having made waves in junior cricket and begun his first-class career with a century on Ranji Trophy debut last season, crafted a hundred that had determination and talent written all over.

Shaw, growing in the company of the seasoned Dinesh Karthik, did not wilt and built on the confident start that he enjoyed from the moment he took strike. The two put on 211 runs for the third wicket as India Red, opting to bat against India Blue, finished the opening day at 317 for five.

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Karthik’s brilliant knock was worth 111 runs off 155 balls with 12 fours while Shaw, who faced 249 balls and hit 18 fours and a six, fell to a tentative prod to nick the ball towards the fag end of the day. 

As the floodlights at the Ekana Stadium glowed Shaw produced an innings that reflected his strong cricket grooming. India Red was given a resplendent launching pad by this gifted opener, who did not strike a false note. The line jarring note was the poor over rate by India Blue – falling short by 6.3 despite an extension of 45 minutes.

India Blue skipper Suresh Raina made some desperate efforts to snare Shaw with frequent bowling changes. Nothing worked. Shaw, with unflinching discipline that strengthened his hunger for runs, maintained his compact hold on the game. Motivation for Shaw came from Karthik’s presence as the dapper wicketkeeper-batsman guided the youngster well.

Shaw does not come across as the archetypal Mumbai batsman. He does possess sound defence, especially against the slow bowlers, but does not believe in curbing his natural flair to play his shots. The ease with which he played the anchor at one end gave a huge fillip to the reputation Shaw has created for his batsmanship.

The day’s play was all about Shaw’s run-making prowess. He cannily picked the deliveries to feast on. Having read the surface well, he avoided shots in the front and made merry square of the pitch. Not that he was hustled by the India Blue seamers but Shaw was in command when tested by the spinners. He was willing to wait for the ball even though at times he took the liberty to leave the sanctuary of the crease.

He cross-batted only one two occasions – once to swipe left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt over midwicket and next to swat Ishant Sharma over slip to herald his century. Karthik, ever under pressure to prove his credentials, was commitment personified in his innings and deserved credit for not only shouldering the innings but also helping his young partner stay focussed.

Brief score:

India Red (first innings) : 317-5 (Prithvi Shaw 154, Dinesh Karthik 111; Bhargav Bhatt 3-83)