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'Shaw'ndaar Prithvi Shaw

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Prithvi_Shaw_India_CricketOn 1st January 2017, the senior Mumbai cricket team was playing against Tamil Nadu in all important Ranji trophy semi-final. Mumbai’s coach and captain took the audacious decision to include 17 year old Prithvi Shaw in the playing eleven for such a crucial game. People were amazed by this inclusion before the match began, but those in Mumbai’s cricket circle knew that it was a great decision. They had seen Prithvi Shaw’s consummate batting skills in Mumbai’s local cricket matches.

In the 2nd innings Shaw proved his mettle by scoring 120 runs, which helped Mumbai to chase down a target of 251 and secure a place in Ranji Trophy final. In fact, he had got out on 99 but was recalled after reviews showed that bowler had overstepped. Such was his beginning at the highest level in domestic cricket.

Prithvi Shaw’s life has been directed towards becoming a great cricketer. At the age of 8, he shifted to the Rizvi school in Bandra to pursue his dream. His talent was spotted by his first coach Santosh Pingulkar. At that tender age, Prithvi was amassing runs in every tournament that he played. In no time, he made a name for himself and the comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar began.

 

Prithvi Shaw broke into news when he scored 546 runs in 330 balls against St. Francis D'Assisi school in the Harris Shield tournament as a teenager. His game is aggressive yet technically sound. With his impressive batting skills, he started playing in the A division of Mumbai’s Kanga League tournament. At the age of 14, he became youngest player to score a century in the Kanga league. Prithvi was facing senior bowlers in all the tournaments he played and yet he scored runs everywhere.

 

His reputation was initially limited to India, but it soon spread across the world when he got an opportunity to train with Gloucestershire County Cricket Club in 2013. Because of his supreme technique, he adapted to the English conditions very quickly. He was the youngest player in Gloucestershire’s 2nd XI team.

The next year, Shaw spent the 2014 English summer playing for Cleethorpes in the Yorkshire ECB County Premier League. Yorkshire, incidentally, had signed Sachin Tendulkar as their first overseas player from India when Sachin was a teenager.

In 2014, Prithvi Shaw won three Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) awards — the Doosabhoy P Paul Trophy for being the highest scorer in an innings in Harris Shield tournament (546 runs), the Ravi Ramkishore Sanwalka Shield for the best player in the Harris Shield (1060 runs) and the best player award.

It seems like Prithvi always had success in his career but he had to face lots of difficulties right from a very young age. Through all the adversity, he showed immense grit, just like he does while batting. He lost his mother at the age of 4. The day when he got those 3 awards, he suffered a nasty injury while playing in a match in the A division. He was fielding during a Talim Shield match for Parel Sporting CC against Payyade Sports Club at Fort Vijay CC, Azad Maidan, when a ball deflected off a stone and the 14-year-old was struck on the forehead. He was fortunate that his eye did not get damaged and he got away with just 20 stitches.

After proper rest and recovery, Prithvi continued from where he left off. He was appointed captain of Mumbai Under 16s team. He repeated his success in age group tournaments on the national level. Due to the consistency in his performance, he was once again appointed as a captain, but this time for the India Under 19s ODI team that toured England. Shaw scored 3 fifties on that tour. In his first outing as a captain, India under 19s managed to whitewash England Under 19s in a 5-0 series victory. It was a huge confidence boost for Shaw as a captain.

 

Shaw is a man of finals. Recently, in the Duleep trophy, he broke Sachin Tendulkar’s record to become youngest player to score a century in Duleep trophy final. He scored a magnificent 154 in the 1st innings that laid foundation for India Blue’s victory. This was just his 3rd first class match and he already had 2 centuries and one half century to his name.

 

This century, however, was special. The opponents had senior Indian players like Ishant Sharma, Pankaj Singh and Suresh Raina. Against this kind of bowling attack, Shaw persisted with his temperament and form.

The two big challenges ahead of him are the upcoming international Under 19s tournaments- the Asia Cup in November and the Under 19 World Cup next year in New Zealand. India have not won the Under 19s world cup since 2012. Shaw will be looking at this opportunity to add one more trophy in his kitty.

It is evident from Shaw’s journey that he is following footsteps of Sachin Tendulkar. After every milestone he achieves, he is compared with the legend. Even if he performs to half of Sachin Tendulkar’s potential, then that would mean we have a star in the making.

 

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