If you are a young talented batsman from Mumbai making waves on the local and national scene, comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar are inevitable. For some, the burden of that comparison weighs too heavy. However, there are others who shine through sheer hard work and commitment.
The latest batting phenom walking in the footsteps of the Master Blaster is 18-year-old right-handed batsman Prithvi Shaw, who most recently scored a scintillating century (102 runs in 61 balls) for Mumbai versus Railways in the Vijay Hazare Trophy following on from his 98 runs of 60 balls in the previous game against Baroda.
Earlier this year, he captained the India Under-19 side to World Cup glory, besides showcasing his talent in the Indian Premier League, playing for the Delhi Daredevils.
Shaw was a four-year-old when he lost his mother and was raised by his father, Pankaj. Waking up for practice every day at 4:30 a.m. as a young boy, Shaw would travel 90 minutes to catch the 6:00 a.m. train headed for Middle Income Group (MIG) ground in Bandra for training with both his cricket kit and school bag.
It was in 2010 when former left-arm spinner Nilesh Kulkarni first spotted Shaw’s ability with the bat. He was only 11 at the time, but Kulkarni’s sports management company snapped the young Mumbaikar up for an annual stipend of Rs 3 lakh.
Later, witnessing his talent, a local corporator helped out father and son, by offering the two his family flat in Santa Cruz, which did not just cut travel time, but also gave the young lad a better opportunity to focus on his academics.
Meanwhile, stints at a United Kingdom-based academy and a second rung countryside at such a tender age gave him the exposure to play on different conditions as well.
Here are five things to know about this prodigiously talented batsman, and why there is such a clamour for his induction into the Indian Test side.
1) As captain of the Rizvi Springfield High School in 2013, Shaw set the highest score in Indian schools’ cricket scoring an unbelievable 546 in 330 balls in the Harris Shield Elite Division Tournament until the record was overtaken by Pranav Dhanawade in 2016. It is presently the fourth-highest score by any batsman in any form of the organised game
2) In 2017, Shaw made his first-class debut for Mumbai in the semi-finals of the Ranji Trophy, scoring a century (120) in the second innings versus Tamil Nadu and winning a match of the match honour.
3) After scoring a century in his Duleep Trophy debut, Shaw matched Tendulkar’s record. What was the record? Of scoring a century each in his Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy debut. However, he also broke the Master Blaster’s record of becoming the youngest player to score a century in the Duleep Trophy at the tender age of 17.
4) Earlier this year in January, Shaw captained the Under-19 side to World Cup glory. Scoring an impressive 261 runs in the tournament at an average of 65.25, Shaw became the highest scoring Indian captain at this level surpassing the likes of Unmukt Chand, Virat Kohli and Parthiv Patel.
5) In the same month, the Delhi Daredevils franchise bought the Mumbai opener in the 2018 IPL auction for a hefty Rs 1.2 crore. Three months later on April 23, 2018, he became the youngest player to open the batting in an IPL match. Four days later he scored his first IPL 50 against the Kolkata Knight Riders, making him the joint youngest player to score an IPL half-century along with Sanju Samson at the tender age of 18 years and 169 days.
The comparisons with Tendulkar are warranted, although the real test will come once he opens the batting for the Indian Test team. He even travelled with the senior team during the recent England tour, although he didn’t play. With the opener’s slot still up for grabs, there are many in Indian cricket pushing for this young Mumbai lad’s inclusion. And I don’t blame them.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)