The Prithvi show

Prithvi Shaw’s hundred came against a depleted West Indies attack. But it is not every day that a teenager makes his Test debut, that too as an opener, then loses his senior partner in the very first over, but goes on to score a run-a-ball hundred.

Five weeks shy of 19, Prithvi Shaw became the first batsman to complete the trilogy of centuries on debut in the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Test cricket.   -  AFP

Prithvi Shaw: a name that is a delight for headline writers ever since he began marauding bowlers much older and taller than him in inter-school matches in Mumbai’s maidans nearly a decade ago. And his maiden India cap in the first week of October was the launch of the Prithvi Missile, the emergence of the Shaw-stopper.

But the headlines would have been wasted had the 18-year-old not have the substance to back the accolades and adjectives. He has kept improving with age — notwithstanding his still young years — and experience, following up a century on his first-class debut in Mumbai’s 2016-17 Ranji Trophy semifinal win over Tamil Nadu with another on his Duleep Trophy debut just nine months later. A year later, but still five weeks shy of 19, Shaw became the first batsman to complete the trilogy with a three-figure score in his first Test match.

True, Shaw’s hundred against the West Indies — at the Saurashtra Cricket Association ground on the outskirts of Rajkot, the venue of his debut Ranji century in January 2017 — came against a depleted side. With lead seamers captain Jason Holder and Kemar Roach unavailable, and two of the three pacers picked for the match having just one Test cap between them, the West Indies team that took the field had little experience of India.

Still, these do not take away from Shaw’s achievements. It is not every day that a teenager makes his Test debut, that too as an opener, then loses his senior partner in the very first over, but goes on to score a run-a-ball hundred.

The Mumbai batsman has a freewheeling style, and his back-foot punches are a delight to watch. And the diminutive Shaw perhaps made a strong case for his taking on the bouncier pitches in Australia later in the year.

Comparisons to the batting greats of Mumbai — especially another prodigy who took the world by storm in the late 1980s and held it in his thrall for a quarter century — are inevitable. But Shaw, after all, is used to being compared to Sachin Tendulkar ever since he smashed 546 for his school, Rizvi Springfield, in a Harris Shield inter-school cricket match at age 14.

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Prithvi Shaw is used to being compared to Sachin Tendulkar ever since he smashed 546 for his school, Rizvi Springfield, in a Harris Shield inter-school cricket match at age 14.   -  The Hindu

 

Shaw, the son of a single parent (father) Pankaj, who shut his cloth business to devote himself fully to his son’s cricket, has dealt with the comparisons well so far, turning them into his strengths rather than buckling under the pressure.

A hundred on Test debut is the ideal start to an international career, but there are examples aplenty of teenagers failing to shine after spectacular starts. And the list is not limited to teenagers; the majority of the 15 Indians with hundreds on Test debut have struggled to add another or cement a place in the national side.

For example, the last time India hosted the West Indies, it was not only Tendulkar’s farewell series, but also Shaw’s Mumbai senior colleague Rohit Sharma’s Test debut, one in which he hit centuries in his first two matches. Five years down the line, as Shaw enters the big league, Sharma has been sidelined from the longest format of the game.

The next couple of years will be crucial for Shaw, and the team management and selectors will need to be patient with him, as he learns to adapt to different conditions and challenges. If can do that, he could be the answer to the question: “Who is the next Tendulkar?”