Mumbai: It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Mumbai batting prodigy Prithvi Shaw. During this time he has shattered several domestic records, captained India to the U-19 World Cup title, and earned his first Indian Premier League contract.
The IPL has created a ripple effect for Shaw, as has been the case for a number of young Indian cricketers over the years. The 18-year-old, on the sidelines of an event organised by Chinese electronics company Oppo in Mumbai, said that he now doesn’t fear any bowler in the world having received his baptism by fire representing the Delhi Daredevils.
“I have played a lot of difficult bowlers [in the IPL],” he said. “I have created a positive mindset from whatever [Delhi Daredevils coach] Ricky [Ponting] and Gauti bhai [Gambhir] said. I’m not under pressure to face any big bowler.”
Shaw lavished praise on the two-time World Cup winning former Australia captain’s tips before he made his IPL debut. Delhi were already five matches into their wretched campaign by then. The captaincy baton by then had passed from Gambhir to Shaw’s Mumbai teammate Shreyas Iyer.
The diminutive hard-hitting batsman acquainted himself in Delhi colours with an explosive 10-ball 22 against Kings XI Punjab. “[Ponting] was the main coach and he asked me to to enjoy my game,” Shaw said. “That was Gauti bhai’s first thought too when I’d made my debut.
Nervous IPL debut
“Obviously, I was nervous with 40,000 people [in the stands] and cameras and all that. It was not the first time I had faced something like that, but still. After getting those positive vibes [from Gambhir and Ponting], the rest is history. I enjoyed myself and my time with the team,” he added.
Shaw learnt about being picked by his IPL franchise a day before the U-19 World Cup final at Mount Maunganui in New Zealand. Not just Shaw, his India U-19 teammates Shubman Gill, Abhishek Sharma and Shivam Mavi also put in impressive displays in the IPL. The jump from international youth cricket to the IPL, Shaw said, is something he found hard to adjust to in the beginning.
“It is different because you are facing a Mitchell Johnson,” he said. “There are batsmen like AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle. This was the best opportunity I could have got because IPL is a big stage and going there from the World Cup was not easy for us. Still, we managed and practised hard.”
After handsome returns of 245 runs at a stupendous strike rate of 153.12, the Mumbai opener’s season became a notch better after he received an India A call-up for the four-day matches and the ODI tri-series in the United Kingdom.
Shaw isn’t thinking about the tour just yet, though. “[I] never planned anything,” he said. “I just came back from the IPL and am taking a couple of days rest. I’ll try to delete what happened [in the IPL] – not the memories, but all those knocks I played over there and try to focus on the positives.”
England is familiar territory for Shaw, having first travelled there as a 13-year-old on a scholarship back in 2012. “I have been there about six-seven times,” he said. I have experience of how the wicket will behave and I am ready for it, to be honest. But it is not going to be easy.
“I don’t think it is going to be the same now [as earlier]. Of course, there will be a little bit of adjustment from the IPL. Against England in England is going to be different so there will be some plans [ahead of the tour].”
At this juncture a relaxed Shaw is basking in the praise of having vowed some yesteryear stalwarts. He has already earned a fan in Mark Waugh, who was reminded of batting great Sachin Tendulkar after watching the youngster bat in the IPL. The inevitable comparisons now sit lightly on Shaw’s young shoulders.
“It feels good when a legend compares you with Sachin sir,” he said. “I can’t compare myself with him as he played for 25 years is already done with his career, and scored 100 hundreds. And I am yet to play international cricket. It is a big thing for me and I hope to continue being amongst the runs.”