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Prithvi Shaw: Another 'little master' in making?

Uday Joshi
ANALYST
Feature
814   //    Timeless

546! Anyone remembers that number? Well, it isn't an STD code or something like that. It is the number of runs Prithvi Shaw scored while he was aged just 14! Adding more to the occasion, it came just 4 days after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar called it a day.

It doesn't matter if it was in school or gully cricket, what matters is the amount of runs scored in that particular innings by such a young boy. It was quite an achievement for him. Whenever such a sensation is witnessed, a cricket-obsessed country just cannot stop talking about it.

A such a young player being compared to Sachin Tendulkar might send shivers down the spine for even an established cricketer. But the young lad kept all the attention aside and focused on what his idol did- bat.. bat..and bat!

Mumbai, a city which has been Indian cricket circuit's heartbeat for almost six decades. The city has produced some of the greatest players of Indian cricket and world cricket too. Shaw is the latest one to emerge from Bombay school of batsmanship.

Sunil Gavaskar was the first true batting maestro to emerge from Mumbai, followed by Vengsarkar and Tendulkar. The word "khadoos" is chiselled in every Mumbai player's cricketing terminology, which literally means 'don't give up your wicket'. Well, that's how all those greats played, especially Mr.Gavaskar.

Prithvi Shaw exudes the same passion, energy and technique like his fellow Mumbaikars who made it big in international cricket. His ability to be calm and composed while playing under pressure has become a noticeable thing among the circuit.

The world saw him lifting that under-19 World Cup under Rahul Dravid's guidance. He was exceptional with the bat throughout the tournament. Soon after lifting the World Cup, the fans saw him play some proper shots even in a chaotic cricketing event like IPL, just like Kohli does. It was enough to catch the selectors eye and he soon got picked up for all important tour of England at the age of 18! Although didn't get to play, he convinced the skipper in the nets as skipper tells it himself.

A young batting sensation or any sporting prodigy has always got that special quality to attract people and get those eyes hooked to his skills, and same was done by Prithvi Shaw during his first stint in international cricket; even though against a weak Windies side, it shouldn't take away anything from his ability.

A fantastic 134! In Tests, on debut, would be a dream come true for any batter. The fact that the lad made it look so so easy, gave an impression that it was an innings of high quality by a seasoned cricketer.

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He didn't leave it all for one innings. He came up with some really good knocks in 2nd Test too, showing us his hunger to bat and score more. It in a way, his performance in the two Tests reassured the fans that there is one more legend in the making.

That high back-lift is a bit unusual for Mumbaikar. However, in the case of Shaw, it looks good when he comes down to launch the spinners just over their head or plays those cuts and cover-drive on the up just like Sachin did.

But is it fair to compare the young lad with some of the most destructive players to have ever played the game? Well, Indian coach Ravi Shastri, a Mumbaikar himself says that Shaw reminds him a bit of Sachin, Sehwag and even went far to compare him with BC Lara. Just because he wears a white scarf under his helmet, is of the same height as that of Sachin, plays with an MRF bat and has that high back-lift, won't make him one of them, or does it?

Let's say he goes on to break many records. If it happens so, will he have the same impact as Sachin or Sehwag? No way! Does he have that same flair like Lara? It would be a crime to say yes. Lara was once in a century player, there won't be anything even close to him. It's impossible to fill into those shoes, but he can still be a great player on his own.

The greats have the ability to do well when it's not expected of them and if he ticks that box he will surely go a long way.

Shaw is a tremendous talent; someone who has the potential to be one among those big league of batters. But we must make sure such talent doesn't go wasted. It must be made sure that he is protected by the people around him, he is made to play more and more of the longer formats.

The management should groom him well for overseas tours. Let him be himself! But it's hard to go off the radar of Indian people and it's media, which always act like a spy with a camera. If he continues to be on the same path, there is no doubt he will find a special place in Indian cricket.

There have been many such instances of hit and misses when it comes to nurturing young ones in Indian cricket and with the amount of cricket that is being played around, it is surely going to be a bumpy ride for him.

Shaw has grabbed those eyeballs when it was necessary. Will he keep up with what he has promised and do justice to his talent? Only time will tell whether he will and if he does, then there might be another Mumbaikar's name that gets added to that 'little masters' cordon.


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