When playing in England, the fickle weather often throws challenges at batsmen. But Prithvi Shaw — the young Mumbai batting sensation and the limited-overs skipper of the India U-19 team — sliced and hammered all obstacles out of the park in his recent outing for the country. How? “Before the tour, we had a camp in Bengaluru with Rahul (Dravid) sir. He told us to play close to the body in England, which made batting easier,” the 17-year-old told Sportstar , after returning to India.
India’s one-time overseas exponent’s words helped the youngsters whitewash the opponents 5-0 in the ODIs and 2-0 in Tests. At this point, the confidence gained from the tour stands crucial for it set the stage for the rookies’ Asia Cup assignment in Malaysia (in November), leading to the ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand in January next year.
“He said that staying close to the body will help us deal with the swing. We had Duke balls (commonly used in the UK) for practise. Sir had also advised us to be patient and wait for the loose deliveries. By the time we reached there, we were mentally prepared,” revealed the 17-year-old, who rode on Dravid’s whispers and emerged as the highest scorer in the Tests — 250 runs with three half-centuries. In the ODIs, he scored 160 in five games.
Shaw made his Ranji Trophy debut for Mumbai last season and became a talking point after scoring a hundred (120) in the semi-final against Tamil Nadu. But today, the right-handed batsman is a different person. The taste of success in national colours added to his World Cup hunger. “The Asia Cup will be an important tournament for us. If we do well there, it will further boost our confidence for the World Cup. The Ranji Trophy, that starts in October, will provide match practise too. I also want to focus on the mental aspect of my batting as I have to stay prepared to deliver in any situation,” he added.
Most U-19 teams are subjected to changes before international tournaments, but this bunch seems to be the core team for the mega event. “Since the tournament isn’t far away, I don’t think there will be major changes. The selectors, of course, will take the final call but from the point of view of age-groups, all these players (who went to England) are available,” clarified Shaw, who spoke highly of Henry Brookes, the right-arm medium bowler from the England U-19 team. “Among all the bowlers I faced, he was really good. He is a high tech bowler.”
Nonetheless, the batsman also credited U-19 coach Woorkeri Raman for the good show. “He got us together and created unity in the team. Before every match, he would discuss plans and strategies. Our preparation, which combined the experience of Rahul sir and Raman sir, was better than our opponents and that’s the reason we won,” he said.
Though he returned to his hometown amid a quiet reception, the silence could transform into fireworks in the future.