On Wednesday, 22 August, Prithvi Shaw’s fast-track journey through cricket reached its highest gear yet when he was called up to the India Test squad for the final two matches against England.
He is still just 18. It was just over four years ago that Shaw was shying away from all the media attention after smashing a school-cricket record. And now, he's an Under 19 World Cup winner and he’ll be sharing the dressing room with Virat Kohli.
Shaw’s rise, needless to say, has been startling. We look at five landmarks of his journey:
Breaks school-level record
The first signs that there was something special about this boy came when he just 14. Shaw amassed 546 runs for his school Rizvi Springfield in a knock that last 367 minutes and comprised 85 fours and five sixes. It was the highest score by an Indian batsman in minor cricket. The knock came in the Harris Shield, the tournament famous for Sachin Tendulkar’s partnership of 664 with Vinod Kambli in 1988, a world record at the time.
Naturally, comparisons with Tendulkar were made at the time, but Shaw handled them deftly. "Tendulkar is my idol in cricket and one thing I try to pick up from him is how he carries himself in a humble manner," he had said.
Century on first-class debut
Mumbai took a punt on Shaw in January 2017. The Ranji Trophy behemoths were to face Tamil Nadu in the semi-final, but injury problems had made them desperate for an opener. Their selector, according to ESPNcricinfo, called up the legendary Rahul Dravid, India’s youth team coach, enquiring about Shaw. “Of course you should consider him,” Dravid said.
Shaw went on to make a century in the second innings to help Mumbai prevail in a tricky chase and seal a spot in the final. He was named Player of the Match. He would go on to score 71 and 44 in the final, impressive knocks even if they couldn’t prevent Mumbai’s loss.
World Cup-winning captain
A year on, Shaw came into international prominence. He captained India to victory in the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2018 in New Zealand in February, scoring 261 runs in six matches at 65.25. So dominant were India that their smallest margin of victory was the eight-wicket win over Australia in the final.
Shaw was the star of the show, giving India solid starts with the bat, and making sharp decisions as captain. For the first time, experts the world over got to see him in action, and they were awed – watching Shaw while on commentary, Ian Bishop said: “That is Tendulkar”.
The IPL comes a-calling
Shaw’s performances at the World Cup impressed the Indian Premier League franchises enough to prompt a bidding war – eventually Delhi Daredevils shelled out approximately $US 187,000 – six times his base price – for his services. And he didn’t disappoint.
The management took a while to play him, but once they did, he gave them solid starts, and was seemingly unfazed by all the noise. He scored 245 runs in nine outings, at an average of 27.22 and an impressive strike-rate of 153.12.
A-grade displays for the A team
The runs continued to flow when the BCCI named him in the India A squad for the tour of England. There was a century against West India A in a fifty-over match in the tri-series in England, and he followed that up with 188 against West India A in the four-day match – his highest score in first-class cricket.
Back in India, in another first-class match against South Africa A, Shaw hammered 136 in Bengaluru. It took his tally to seven centuries in 14 first-class matches, and quite possibly, sealed the selectors' decision to call him up to the Test squad.
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