Agarkar sees Dravid feedback as key in Prithvi's Test selection

For Ajit Agarkar, the Mumbai chief selector who is thrilled to see yet another city player drafted into India's squad, Rahul Dravid's approval would be the biggest stamp.

Ajit Agarkar opines that Rahul Dravid's feedback to the national selectors played a key role in the selection of Prithvi Shaw.   -  Vivek Bendre

Almost two years ago, when then Mumbai chief selector Milind Rege was not convinced whether to draft Prithvi Shaw into Mumbai's squad for the Ranji Trophy semifinal, he consulted Rahul Dravid, the India Under-19 and India A coach, before selecting the opening batsman for the 2016-17 semifinal against Tamil Nadu.

Cut to Wednesday, and the national selection panel led by M.S.K. Prasad is understood to have consulted the former India captain yet again before settling in on Shaw as Murali Vijay's replacement over Mayank Agarwal for the last two Tests in England.

For Ajit Agarkar, the Mumbai chief selector who is thrilled to see yet another city player drafted into India's squad, Dravid's approval would be the biggest stamp.

“If Rahul has given them the feedback, which I assume they would have sought, that's all you would want to know. He is not going to promote him for his promise or age” Agarkar told Sportstar on Thursday.

Despite Shaw being a teenager, his selection in India's squad has hardly raised any eyebrows back home.

After all, the consistent run he has had with the bat – be it for Mumbai or India Under-19 or India A – across formats and in varied conditions across the globe, coupled with India openers' inconsistent run in Tests meant Shaw's call was waiting in the wings.

Having converted nearly half of his 26 innings in first-class cricket in 50-plus scores, Shaw has amassed 1418 runs at 56.72, with seven hundreds and five fifties.

Just like wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, his ability to cope with the English conditions during the recent India A series has also worked in his favour.

With India having marked a comeback in the series with an emphatic win at Trent Bridge, it will be surprising if Shaw actually debuts for India in England.

Still, Agarkar feels Shaw couldn't have asked for a better time to join the big boys.

“Even if he doesn't get a game, just to be around the group and a happy change room will work wonders for him. I am sure this exposure will make him an even better batsman,” Agarkar said.

Ever since he burst on to the Mumbai maidans more than a half a dozen years ago as a diminutive batsman who was “one to watch out for”, Shaw has often recalled how “at times he slept with his bat pillow” and how he has always cherished wearing the “India cap” on his long local train journeys from far-off north-western suburb to south Mumbai.

As he prepared to leave for England from Bengaluru on Thursday, he would realise that he has indeed taken a giant stride towards fulfilling the dream.

It remains to be seen if he can make the most of it.