IPL 2021: How Prithvi Shaw has turned around his fortunes since the lows of Australia

Prithvi Shaw on song against KKR on Thursday (Photo: BCCI)
Prithvi Shaw on song against KKR on Thursday (Photo: BCCI)
Suvajit Mustafi

Prithvi Shaw has experienced wildly fluctuating fortunes in the past six months.

After losing his place in the Test side after India’s horrendous show in the pink-ball Test in Adelaide last December, the Delhi Capitals (DC) opener began to doubt himself. All he managed was just four runs in two innings as the young Prithvi Shaw became a victim of Team India’s infamous 36 all-out capitulation.

From his technique to attitude, Prithvi Shaw was dissected and pilloried by fans and pundits.In a fairy tale of sorts, India won two of the next three Tests in Australia and scripted one of their most incredible away series wins. But Prithvi Shaw played no role in that turnaround.

Four months later, the 21-year-old is knocking on the selectors' doors again after a blistering campaign in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and a strong showing in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.

On Thursday, Prithvi Shaw's 41-ball 82 helped DC floor the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and ascend to second spot in the IPL 2021 points table.

From a very young age, Prithvi Shaw was touted as the 'next big thing' in Indian cricket. But through the highs and lows of his short but eventful career, his father, Pankaj, has remained his pillar of strength.

After winning the Player of the Match award on Thursday, Prithvi Shaw acknowledged his father’s support as a key factor that helped him recover from the lows in Australia and become a better player.

“My dad has supported me very well. After getting back from Australia, I wasn’t happy with myself. My dad just asked me to play my natural game. All these words set a target on me, and I worked hard,” said Prithvi Shaw

During his blistering knock against KKR, Prithvi Shaw became only the second player in IPL history to hit six fours in an over, with the victim being his Under-19 World Cup-winning teammate, Shivam Mavi.

Prithvi Shaw was identified as a special talent at the age of three by a local coach in Virar in the outskirts of Mumbai. Shaw's father, Pankaj, did everything possible to nurture his son’s cricketing dreams as they began living it together.

The latest IPL orange cap 2021 list is available here.

After losing his mother at the age of four, Prithvi Shaw was raised by Pankaj as a single parent, who had to wind up his business to focus on his son’s cricket career.

From starting their days at 4.30 AM and making the 140-km to-and-fro journey in the notorious Virar locals to donning the role of a father, mother and best friend, Pankaj has been a constant in Prithvi Shaw’s life.

At nine, Prithvi Shaw scored 73 against Julian Wood’s touring side at MIG. Four years later, the former cricketer turned coach prophesied that by 18, Shaw would be the best batsman in India.

With every passing year, Prithvi Shaw kept scaling newer heights. From his 546 in school cricket to the hundred on Ranji Trophy debut to leading India to a U-19 World Cup win to slamming a ton on Test debut, Prithvi Shaw knew no stopping.

However, the pressure in professional sports can be ruthless, and the best of talents are not immune to that. Prithvi Shaw was no exception. But in the company of Pankaj, his father, his companion, who has lived the journey with him, Prithvi Shaw has risen from the ashes.

The rollercoaster six months for Prithvi Shaw

Prithvi Shaw got off to a good start in the IPL in 2020, smashing two fifties and a 42 in his first five matches, doing so at a strike rate of 148. However, he hit a terrible phase after that. In his next eight outings, Prithvi Shaw managed 49 runs at a paltry average of 6.13 to lose his place in the team.

He was dropped from the tournament final as well. Later, DC coach Ricky Ponting would reveal that the batsman was so short of confidence that he wouldn’t bat in the nets either.

Prithvi Shaw's loss of form didn’t affect his place in the Test team, though. The selectors picked him for the Australia tour. Why not? In his first four Tests, he had three 50+ scores, which included a century on debut.

However, Prithvi Shaw was found wanting Down Under. In tour games in Australia, he managed only 62 runs in four outings.

Despite loud cries of benching him, Prithvi Shaw was picked ahead of Shubman Gill in the Adelaide pink-ball Test. But Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins ruthlessly exposed Shaw's weakness against the swinging ball, bringing his international career to a shuddering halt.

India being bowled out for 36 didn’t help, and Prithvi Shaw’s fitness raised questions too.

The technique that made him India's most exciting talent and a household name, and drew accolades from the likes of Brian Lara and Rahul Dravid, was now bringing him brickbats. Prithvi Shaw was worried, and the outside noise didn’t help as well.

Encouraged by his father, Prithvi Shaw made small technical changes like his initial movement where he was coming back and across early. He worked on his footwork and stability with his coaches Prashant Shetty and Pravin Amre (who is also his coach at DC). What followed next were unmatched highs.

Prithvi Shaw led Mumbai to the Vijay Hazare Trophy title in March, amassing 827 runs – the most by any batsman in the tournament’s history. He also became the first-ever player to register three 150+ scores in a single series/ tournament.

Prithvi Shaw continued his scintillating form in the IPL, helping DC win five of their seven matches. Currently third in the list of run-getters in this edition of the tournament, Shaw has amassed 269 runs in seven matches at an average of 38.42 while striking at 165.

Taking a cut-off of 200 runs, Prithvi Shaw’s strike rate is only behind AB de Villier’s 174.4 in IPL 2021.

Having seen both the highs and lows in his short career, the young batsman wants to make the most of his form and isn’t keen on getting too ahead of himself.

“In cricket, the graphs are going to go up and down; a lot of failures are also going to come my way,” he added.

With the England tour on the horizon and the T20 World Cup scheduled in India towards the end of the year, Prithvi Shaw is making a compelling case for a return to the Indian team.

Edited by Bhargav

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