Prithvi Shaw. Photo: AFP
Prithvi Shaw. Photo: AFP

Prithvi Shaw ushers in new dawn for Indian cricket

Prithvi Shaw scored his century in less than a run a ball, wasn't afraid to play his shots and hardly made a mistake

New Delhi: He says he was nervous before the start of play but nothing about him on Thursday gave any sign of that. Prithvi Shaw, all of 18 years and 329 days, making his Test debut for India against the West Indies in Rajkot, ran on to the field in the morning with the energy and hunger that only a teenager can have at the start of his career. It was there on show in Karachi in 1989—when Sachin Tendulkar, then just 16, faced up to the finest pace attack in the world.

But you need more than that to do well in international Tests. Especially if you are an opening batsman making your debut, albeit against a set of bowlers who aren’t exactly as fearsome as Wasim Akram, Imran Khan and Waqar Younis, the trio Tendulkar faced.

But on an opening morning, with five catchers behind the wicket waiting for you to make a mistake, Shaw only needed to err once. That he didn’t signs him off as a special talent.

Shannon Gabriel delivered the ball on the fifth stump line, in the corridor of uncertainty, trying to exploit any movement the pitch might offer. The ball swung away and Shaw let it go, his eyes on the ball all the while. In the commentary box, that eternal purist, Sanjay Manjrekar, applauded the effort: “First ball of Test cricket Prithvi Shaw plays the most important shot in Test cricket. The leave alone."

He then punched the second ball between point and cover, standing tall despite his 5ft-and-a-few-inches frame, for his first runs, making it evident why he has been tipped for a bright future. For the next four-odd hours, Shaw cut and punched with authority, flicked with ease and drove with confidence. And around the first-hour mark, post lunch, Shaw became the youngest Indian to hit a century on debut and the fourth youngest ever in the world.

“Lovely to see such an attacking knock in your first innings, @prithvishaw! Continue batting fearlessly," tweeted Tendulkar.

What made the knock special was Shaw’s aggressive intent. He scored the century at less than a run a ball, wasn’t afraid to play his shots and hardly made a mistake.

“Such a beautiful moment for young @PrithviShaw. Almost a child. Bats like he knows no fear. No inhibitions. This is a different generation!" tweeted Harsha Bhogle.

People who have known Shaw over the years saw it coming. Around this time last year, Shaw was preparing for the U19 World Cup. He led India to victory in that tournament. He then made his Ranji Trophy debut against Tamil Nadu in Rajkot and scored a century in the second innings to help Mumbai book a ticket to the final. For now, he seems to have booked himself a ticket to Australia.

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