Prithvi Shaw focusing on fitness while breaking new barriers
The most awaited clash of the 2017-2018 season of the Ranji Trophy involving the hosts, Mumbai and Tamil Nadu kicked off amid plenty of fanfare. The two fiercely competitive sides locked horns for the third round of India's most prestigious domestic tournament at the MCA Sharad Pawar Indoor Cricket Academy Ground in Mumbai.
The skipper of the Mumbai outfit, Aditya Tare won the toss and had absolutely no hesitation in electing to bat first. The wicket is known to be a batting paradise and combined with the hot conditions on offer; the visitors struggled to find their ideal line and length all through the day.
However, despite the scorching heat, a handful of spectators who turned up to witness this humongous clash were treated to an absolute masterclass by a young teenage batting sensation in Prithvi Shaw.
Competing in only his third Ranji Trophy match, the right-handed batsman showed tremendous grit to settle down the slightest of nerves if any against the star-studded Tamil Nadu team including the champion off-spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin.
Opening the batting along with the experienced Akhil Herwadkar, the teenager looked in sublime touch all throughout the innings in his 155 ball stay at the wicket. And, despite losing partners at regular intervals, it did not deter the confidence of the youngster as he was single-handedly steading the ship of his team.
Reflecting on his knock, Prithvi said, "I was just trying to stay at the wicket and not get too worried about the scoreboard. I knew the runs would come for me and the team as long as I am batting out in the middle. The plan was very simple for me: to bat all day and accumulate as many runs as possible for my side".
The knock wasn't an easy one for the young player as he was up against one of India's premier Test bowler in Ravichandran Ashwin who challenged the defence of the right-hander time and again with his skills and exposure to international cricket.
"He is an experienced bowler, and he accurately knows how to bowl on flat wickets, so it was very challenging for me. I did not have any particular idea against him; I just wanted to play my natural time and try and dominate as much as I can which worked well for me", he said on the experience of countering Ashwin for the very first time.
The year of 2017 has been one memorable year in the life of Prithvi Shaw. After making his Ranji debut against the same opponent in January earlier this year, his game has evolved leaps and bounds, and he gives this credit to the work done by Under-19 coach, Rahul Dravid.
"When you play for India Under-19 and interact with Rahul sir, you understand so much more about your game which in turn helps us when we return and start implementing it in our domestic season. I have also learnt a lot from the senior players in the Mumbai side in regards to consistently keep performing at the highest level which has helped me immensely".
Fearless is the synonym used for the players of this generation and Shaw is no different as he got to a well deserved hundred with a straight hit over Rahil Shah which landed a couple of yards short of the boundary rope.
And, despite scoring heaps of runs this season, he looks incredibly focused and is hungry for much more.
"The plan for me is very simple, just to keep playing and not experiment too much with my game. The more I am consistent with the performance, the better it is for me. The approach remains the same in every match that I compete in".
The hunger for runs and the determination to improve each day in every aspect of the game is reaping massive dividends for this young kid.
"I have worked hard this season in particular on my fitness levels which have benefited me in playing such huge knocks in the heat and also focus for long hours. Earlier I never used to do a lot of gym sessions but the last one year I have worked hard in the gym which has helped me very well".
This magnificent effort of 123 runs which was studded with seventeen hits to the fence and two huge sixes helped Mumbai recover from the jitters and end the day in a commanding position at 314 runs with the loss of seven wickets.
A well made half century by the captain combined with contributions from the overall batting unit, the home team would be in a rather comfortable position at the end of the day. With the ever-reliable Abhishekh Nayar still battling out, the fortunes of the team depend on how well he can handle the tail and pile on the runs on day two.