The dust is yet to settle on the emotional farewell of Mumbai’s ultimate cricket icon and here comes another young boy with such batting promise that recalling Sachin Tendulkar’s deeds as a schoolboy can’t be avoided.
Enter Prithvi Shaw, 15. Standing at just over five feet, he stood tall at Azad Maidan on Wednesday, the ground where Mumbai cricket dreams are built. Playing for Rizvi Springfield (Bandra), he struck a mammoth 546 in a Harris Shield match against St. Francis D’Assisi.
Displaying astonishing stamina, Prithvi, who started batting on Tuesday, was at the crease for six hours and seven minutes. His 330-ball knock was laced with 85 fours and five sixes (a strike rate of 165.45). His team was finally all out for 991.
The innings is the third highest ever, after AEJ Collins’ 628 not out in 1899 and CJ Eady’s 566 at Hobart in 1901. It was the highest score in the 117-year-old tournament.
“I didn’t know when I was in the 490s because I told my teammates not to tell me my score,” Prithvi said.
Prithvi Shaw slams 546 runs in Harris Shield against St Francis School at Azad Maidan in Mumbai. (Shakti Yadav)
“I was batting well and I wanted to play my natural game. Once I reached 500, my teammates told me and cheered for me.” Asked about his chances of playing for India, he said, “There is still a long way to go. I am just focussed on playing the game.”
Prithvi took to cricket aged four. His father Pankaj Shaw even moved from Virar to Santa Cruz to ease his son’s burden of commuting. And Prithvi is already soaring high.
"It was a good score for me and my team," Shaw, who spent the summer holidays this year training in England, told reporters.
"Our coach just asked me to concentrate on every ball. The only plan was to score as many runs as we could."
"There are some important matches coming up, so I want my form to continue."
School coach Raju Pathak said he was not surprised by his ward's monumental achievement. "Not only is he talented, but also plays without any pressure," Pathak said. "Prithvi just loves to bat on and on."
Prithvi Shaw, playing for Rizvi Springfield school, compiled the huge score against St Francis school in the Harris Shield. (Shakti Yadav)
About the knock
Queried on how he planned his innings, Prithvi said, "I was totally blank when I went in today. There were no specific plans. Just concentrated on playing the singles and twos and waited for the loose deliveries." Asked about the opposition bowling attack, he tried to answer like pros do but ended up being what he is – a sweet little teenager.
"They had some good bowlers and fielders but at the same time they bowled a lot of loose balls during my batting. They dropped some catches. It wasn't easy for them out there. Some of them were diving catches. To keep my hydration going, I drank lots of water," he said.
The Mumbai U-16 captain started cricket in Virar when he was just four years old.
"When I was four, I started playing cricket. My father didn't know about cricket. Then one of my father's friend advised him to take me to a coaching camp. It was based in Virar. I earlier used to stay in Virar and I was coached by Santosh Pingulkar. Now I train under Raju Pathak and also at the MIG," Prithvi stated.
15 year-old Prithvi Shaw celebrates after scoring 500 runs at a Harris Shield match in Mumbai. Shaw slammed 546 runs to break Armaan Jaffer's Harris Shield record of 498 runs. (PTI Photo)
Even as news agencies were abuzz with Shaw's stunning knock, people took to social media sites to celebrate the teenager's achievement. Tanuj Garg, a Twitter user posted on the site: "Hope Prithvi Shaw gets the same chances as Sachin Tendulkar to prove his mettle and become another legend with time."
Cricketer Ravindra Jadeja tweeted: "Woke up early to practice for the #IndVsWI ODI match starting today. Planning to break Prithvi Shaw's record today."
Watch video: Mumbai's Prithvi Shaw breaks Indian batting record
However, there were some who expressed their reluctance over the hype the teenage batsman was getting. A twitter user, Khamba, tweeted: "Now that Prithvi Shaw has made 546 in a Harris Shield match, it's only a matter of time before we ruin him with media attention."
Another twitterian Gautam K Sheth posted: "I seriously pray people don't label Prithvi Shaw as the next Sachin. The kid is a proven performer. Let Prithvi Shaw become Prithvi Shaw."
(With inputs from PTI)
The teenager smashed an astonishing 546 off 330 balls in an inter-school match in Mumbai. (Shakti Yadav)