Interview: From idolizing Sachin Tendulkar to practicing with Arjun Tendulkar, Prithvi Shaw’s story
Prithvi Pankaj Shaw – remember the name, for you may soon see it inscribed on a Team India jersey – has taken Indian domestic cricket by storm. At only 17 years of age, the batsman from Mumbai – a land known for its mass-production of terrific batsmen, is being touted as India’s next Sachin Tendulkar.
The baby-faced, elegant opener, among many other feats at the domestic level, has four centuries from five first-class games and is only behind Tendulkar for having most first-class tons under the age of 18.
Prithvi may not be entitled to a driving license yet, but he is driven by an inexhaustible hunger for runs and is making the best of bowlers dance to his tunes.
Sportskeeda caught up with the child prodigy for a quick chat.
Playing cricket since the age of three
When most kids of his age were attending playschool, Prithvi’s father, a cloth merchant, got him enrolled at a nearby cricket ground - all at the tender age of three. Despite losing his mother at 4 years of age, only a year later, the child prodigy did not let emotional hardships get the better of his game.
“My dad used to send me throw-downs when I was around 3 years old, with which I developed an interest in cricket. Seven months later, he got me enrolled at a nearby cricket ground. Fondness for the game only grew thereafter and I started watching all the games that were showed on the television, especially Sachin sir’s innings,” recalled Prithvi.
By the time Prithvi started playing for his school, the Rizvi Springfield High School, he already had media persons crowding him. The opener captained his school team to two Harris Shield titles in 2012 and 2013, the most elite trophy in Indian youth cricket, and also blasted a record 546 runs off 330 balls. Back then, the school team’s coach Rahul Pathak had mentioned that Prithvi had scored four hundreds in the past three weeks!
For someone as young as Shaw, too much attention from sports journalists can be unhealthy because he can fall prey to the hype around him.
“Handling the media can become very difficult sometimes. But I have been giving interviews for quite a few years now, so I have become habituated to it. I’ve been getting media attention ever since my school days,” said Prithvi, when asked how he handles too much of media recognition.
A run-machine for Mumbai’s 'Khadoos Army'
Shaw made his debut for Mumbai against domestic heavyweights Tamil Nadu in the semifinal of the Ranji Trophy 2016-17. He slammed a 120 in the second innings to help Mumbai go through to the final. Although he didn’t get a big score on the big day, Prithvi was selected for Duleep Trophy’s India Red team and became the youngest batsman to score a century on debut in the tournament.
This was followed by a call-up to the Board President’s XI against New Zealand last month, where he scored 22 and 66 in the two warm-up games. While those numbers do not do justice to his rich form, Prithvi earned praises from Kiwi speedster Trent Boult for playing swing early on in the innings with utmost ease.
And in the on-going Ranji season, the youngest cricketer in the Mumbai team has already slammed two successive centuries. With this, he also became the sixth man to make three centuries in his first four Ranji Trophy games, joining Rusi Modi, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Amol Muzumdar and Aditya Shrivastava.
However, Prithvi’s hunger for more and more runs is inexhaustible. Given the cut-throat competition cricketers face in their transition from domestic to international cricket, the lad wants to grab every opportunity with both hands.
“I am trying to get better with each passing game. At this level, no matter how many runs you score, they are never enough. Ranji is a huge opportunity for me to make the most of each and every chance. So the more centuries I score, the better for me,” he thoughtfully said.
Being the youngest in the Mumbai team, Prithvi is constantly motivated by senior players like Ajinkya Rahane, with whom he shared a splendid 136-run partnership against Odisha earlier this week.
“Ajju bhai (Ajinkya Rahane) appreciates my batting a lot. He always motivates me to keep going and keeps encouraging me. I thoroughly enjoyed my partnership with him.”
A Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane fan
On being asked who his favourite cricketer from among the current Indian team is, Prithvi picked his Mumbai teammates Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane, along with Virat Kohli.
“All are good in the current Indian set-up but I will choose Rohit sir since he belongs to the Mumbai team. He is an extremely talented batsman and whenever I get the time, I watch his batting,” remarked Prithvi.
He was also quick to talk about his fondness for Kohli’s admirable run-chasing ability, and Rahane’s responsible batting at No. 5 in Tests.
“I like Kohli and Ajju bhai as well. Kohli is a run-machine so I try to learn several things from him, like how he approaches situations when chasing a big target.”
“Ajju bhai comes down the order in Tests when the situation is not really in your hands, yet manages to turn the tables around. This is why I love watching him bat.”
Friendship with Arjun Tendulkar, schooling and other off-field interests
Little would have the little Prithvi known that as a teen, he would be practicing cricket with his idol Sachin Tendulkar’s son. Arjun and Prithvi, both of whom share the same age, often practice together. The left-arm quick bowls to the right-handed batsman at the BKC (Bandra Kurla Complex Ground)
“Arjun comes to BKC for practice. We often play together. He bowls and I bat,” revealed Prithvi.
Off the field, the hard-hitting batting sensation is trying to figure out if he will be able to take out time to appear for his 12th Board exams.
“I will be giving my Class 12 exams this year but I am not too sure if I will get the time to.”
He also pointed out that contrary to popular perception, famous children are not given any biased and special treatment on their marksheets.
When jokingly told that the examiner would pass him only by seeing his name, Prithvi giggled, “maine bhi ye hi socha tha (I also thought the same) but nothing of that sort happened. I was marked as per what I wrote. We do not get any special treatment.”
On his interests off the field, the Thane-born teen spoke about table tennis and movies.
“When not playing cricket, I like to play table tennis (single player). I also like to watch movies but not at home, only at the theatres!”
Prithvi is not satisfied with four centuries from five first-class games. His hunger for runs is a proof that the boy is here to stay for a long time. Don’t be surprised if he overtakes Yuvraj Singh for being the costliest player in the history of IPL auctions when the bidders form their teams for the T20 extravaganza’s 11th season.
The Shaw has just begun!