The blossoming of the young Prithvi Shaw

Mumbai’s Praful Waghela and Aditya Tare highlight the uncompromising mindset of the special batsman as he embarks on his India journey.

Tough teenager: Prithvi Shaw possesses seven centuries and five half-centuries having played only 14 first-class matches. Photo: Vivek Bendre

An 18-year-old earning a Test call-up before tightening his screws in the limited-overs setup is not usual. But Prithvi Shaw is special. He has impressed the national selectors enough after having played only 14 first-class matches — seven hundreds and five half-centuries — and after leading India to the U-19 World Cup title. All within the span of a year.

Still, early selection is bound to raise eyebrows.

Did selectors rush Shaw into Virat Kohli’s side for the last two Tests in England? If he features in the playing eleven, can he handle the pressure?

From the non-striker’s end

Mumbai batsman Praful Waghela isn’t a regular in the State team, but luckily, he had witnessed Shaw’s graduation — from being a school boy to a man. The 33-year-old, Shaw’s first opening partner in the Mumbai side, believes the kid possesses the temperament to excel at the higher level. “When he got selected for Mumbai, I was a little startled that my opening partner was half my age. He was 17. It was more of a father-son relationship,” he told Sportstar on Thursday.

“He had failed in the first innings, and when it was our turn to bat in the second innings. The opponent [Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy semifinal; 2016-17 season] brought a left-arm spinner into the attack to build pressure on Shaw. Being a left-hander, I told him I would take strike. But he didn’t let me. He told me, ‘Dada, main hi kheloonga, jo hoga wo dekha jayega, but main hi loonga strike’ (I will take strike. We will see what happens),”’ he added.

Read: The Englishman who noticed India's "Shaw" stopper

Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare remembers the incident. “I remember telling Praful to take strike, but then, I saw Prithvi taking guard. It speaks a lot about his mindset,” he told this publication.

Prithvi Shaw (right) and Praful Waghela (left) after a nets session last year. Photo: Special Arrangement

 

Chandrakant Pandit, the then Mumbai coach, had specifically instructed Waghela to keep a tab on Shaw as they were also room-mates. “Sir told me he is a kid, and he will be under pressure. Ranji Trophy debut at the age of 17 is no joke. I noticed whenever he would be under pressure, he would play games on his mobile phone. He would never show that there is pressure,” revealed Waghela, who felt emotional after Shaw hammered a ton in the second innings.

“It reminded me of his struggles. The daily commute from Virar (outskirts to the city), at times on his father’s shoulder in the local train during the rush hour. It was a good experience to see a youngster blossom. He was very confident.”

Right time for selection

Waghela feels the selectors picked him at the right time. “You should always give chance to a player when he is scoring runs. When a batsman gets a push being in form, it increases his confidence,” he added.

Tare echoed Waghela, stating how the selectors roped in Shaw at a crucial juncture of the Ranji Trophy. “It was a bold move by the selectors to include him in a big match like the Ranji semifinal. We were looking for an opener and he came in.”

“He actually surprised me. He was a tiny guy, out of school, and the way he was handling our seasoned bowlers at nets was impressive. I am sure he will do well [for India],” he said.

Shaw also stood out in the Indian Premier League for Delhi Daredevils, smashing giants like Mitchell Johnson and Shakib Al Hasan all over the park.