Should Prithvi Shaw start opening for India in tests?
Prithvi Shaw, the U-19 World Cup winning captain, is being seen as the next big thing in Indian cricket. Many people even compare him with the young Sachin Tendulkar who represented India in international cricket at the age of just sixteen. Prithvi Shaw has impressed all the Indian cricket supporters as well as the selectors, with his quality and consistent batting performances.
Talking about first-class cricket, Prithvi Shaw has already scored 1418 runs, in just 26 innings, averaging nearly 57 (source:espncricinfo). Prithvi Shaw has also displayed his ability to convert his 50s into 100s. Out of his twelve first-class 50+ scores, Shaw has managed to convert seven of those into hundreds, which is a sign of a great player. Recently, the youngster has also demonstrated his masterclass with scores of 136, 62, 188, 102, 132 and 70, representing India A in his last 10 first-class matches. No doubt, Prithvi Shaw is regarded as a solid prospect by several experts and pundits of the game. What could be better than giving him some opportunities in test cricket to manifest his abilities and talent?
Another prominent reason why Prithvi Shaw needs to be given opportunity is the continuous failures of Indian openers in tests especial. Though KL Rahul looked to regain his lost form after a well-structured inning of 149 in the final test against England, Shikhar Dhawan seems to be requiring some more time off the field before he represents India in tests again. Murali Vijay, after being dropped by India, has involved himself in county cricket, scoring a match-winning 100 for Essex in his dream debut in County cricket. Ajinkya Rahane too has got himself engaged in domestic cricket for India, and the same option could be looked at by Shikhar Dhawan as well since he struggled to put up runs on the scoreboard in the recently concluded test series in England.
Both Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari were included in India's squad for the last three tests versus England. However, only Vihari was given a go in the dead-rubber 5th test and made a fine debut by scoring 56 runs and picking up 3 wickets. The inclusion of Shaw in the squad has proved that even the selectors are impressed with Shaw's batting performances and view him as a long-term prospect.
There is no better time for Prithvi Shaw to be given a chance to play for Indian cricket team than now. India's next test series is against a comparatively weaker West Indies side. As the series will be played at home, selecting Shaw as the opener alongside KL Rahul in the two-match test series could prove to be a wise gamble. Shaw is just eighteen years of age now and still has a lot of time to improve himself and hone his craft.
With the level of promise that the teenager has shown with India 'A' squad, any overreaction in case he fails with the Indian team in his first few matches should be avoided. In fact, he should also be given an opportunity to join the Indian squad as they tour Australia in the near future. This will be a great learning curve for Shaw and India may potentially reap rich dividends down the line. Many are keeping their fingers crossed with the hope that selectors give this gifted and dexterous young lad a chance as he has the potential to join the long list of cricketing greats that this country has produced.