Why Prithvi Shaw and not Gill? Wasim Jaffer spells out

Shaw’s selection as opener for the pink ball Test ahead of Shubman Gill raised a few eyebrows as the latter fared better in the tour games.

In the four Tests Shaw has played, he has two fifties and also became the youngest Indian to score a hundred on debut.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Prithvi Shaw has lost quite a bit of hair since the last time he was in Australia. An ankle injury while fielding in the warm-up game ruled him out of the tour in 2018-19. It was unfortunate he couldn’t be part of the historic series when India beat Australia in its own backyard for the first time.  He was the first-choice opener.

When he was recovering from the injury, a failed dope test report resulted in an eight-month ban from The Board of Control for Cricket in India.

His selection for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21, starting with the day-night Test in Adelaide on Thursday, stamps the importance of a Test hundred among other things. Shaw was the youngest Indian at 18 years and 329 days to score a century on Test debut. In the four Tests he played, he has two fifties and a hundred. He did no wrong, it’s just that his contemporaries, such as Shubman Gill, progressed through the ranks.

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Former India batsman Wasim Jaffer, who was part of Anil Kumble’s touring party in 2007-08, feels Shaw perhaps got the nod ahead of Gill for experience. And that the bouncy Australian wickets may suit his style of play.

Shaw is indeed a solid back foot player who can ride the bounce.

“It was a tough call between Shubman and Prithvi. I think they went with Prithvi because he has played Test matches and has got a little bit of experience. And he is one of those players who has got a hundred in Test cricket,” Jaffer told Sportstar on the eve of the Adelaide Test.

Shaw is an attacking batsman. He loves the back foot punch and cover drive but there is a tendency to chase balls outside off, which has often led to his downfall. He needs to be more patient and see off the good balls.

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Jaffer wants him to survive the first hour. “When he gets going, you know how dangerous he can be. The Australian wickets will probably suit him if he negates the first hour. He is a very free-flowing batsman.”

“I think the challenge is to spend at least the first 10 to 15 overs on the wicket for him. He is a guy who doesn’t hold back but he needs to be very selective in his shot-making. The Adelaide strip is generally a good batting wicket. He can be dangerous if he spends 15 overs. It is a good chance for him to come good. He had a lean IPL but he is a quality player. Even Shubman is a quality player,” added Jaffer, who has two Test double hundreds as an opener.

Shaw scored 0, 19, 40 and 3 in the tour games while Gill made 43 and a 65 in the pink ball warm-up game. With that technique and mindset, the wait is not going to be too long for Gill. He could be the No. 4 batsman when Virat Kohli goes on paternity leave after the first Test. On top of that, Shaw has been taking the leg-spin a bit more seriously which adds to the utility factor.

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