Mumbai, India wait for Prithvi Shaw 2.0
For ‘Prithvi Shaw 2.0’, it will not just be about getting back rhythm and timing. He will have to deal with all the extra attention. With a century on Test debut, he had a dream start to his India career.Updated: Nov 15, 2019 08:41 IST
Prithvi Shaw’s ban for a doping violation ends on Friday. The opening batsman, who has played two Tests, was serving a backdated eight-month suspension handed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on July 30 for “inadvertently” consuming cough syrup that contained prohibited substance terbutaline.
During the ban, which ends on midnight November 15, Shaw stayed off Twitter and Instagram. Well, nearly. Last week, on his 20th birthday, Shaw posted a short video of him practising captioned: “I turn 20 today. I assure it will be Prithvi Shaw 2.0 going forward. Thank u for all the good wishes & support. Will be back in action soon.” After training at the National Cricket Academy for the past few weeks, Shaw returned to Mumbai on Tuesday in the anticipation of straightaway getting into the Mumbai team. On Thursday, Shaw was included in the 15-member Mumbai team announced for the remaining group games of the Syed Musthaq Ali T20 Trophy and the Elite League starting in Surat on November 21. It is learnt, Shaw will play in the last group game against Assam on Sunday.
For ‘Shaw 2.0’, it will not just be about getting back rhythm and timing. He will have to deal with all the extra attention. With a century on Test debut, he had a dream start to his India career. There was a lot of buzz when Shaw left for his first overseas tour of Australia. An ankle injury prematurely ended his trip. Recovery took longer than expected and things went south with the doping ban.
“He has seen former players who achieved fame and success and handled it well and he has seen players who have gone astray. He has to keep his eyes open and see what is good and not good for him. People will pounce on the smallest of mistakes,” said Dilip Vengsarkar, former India captain.
“Sachin Tendulkar was mature for his age. At the same time, there are others like Vinod Kambli who lost their way.”
A former Mumbai player, who did not wish to be named, said Shaw should follow the example of Rohit Sharma who resurrected his career after struggling with stardom. “He (Shaw) needs to look at senior players who made cricket their priority,” said former India opener Wasim Jaffer.
Chandrakant Pandit has seen Shaw from when he was an under-14 player. Pandit was part of the MCA Academy where Shaw trained. Pandit, who guided Vidarbha to successive Ranji Trophy titles in last two seasons, was also Mumbai coach when Shaw scored a century on his Ranji debut.
“He has definitely got something and once he gets that opportunity, he will give his best. I would just tell him that, ‘you haven’t committed any crime and this isn’t the end of the world’. Nobody doubts your ability as a player. You have to just look forward,” said Pandit.
In Mumbai, a player is judged by his Ranji Trophy performance. In 2017, Mumbai were dithering about including Shaw for the Ranji Trophy semi-final against Tamil Nadu as there were doubts whether he was ready. In the end the selectors and coaches decided to gamble.
Shaw’s century in the second innings on debut, which paved the way for Mumbai’s entry into the final, made him famous. Since then he has made it to the India team, toppled records and signed multi-year endorsements. Shaw captained India to the U-19 World Cup title, was picked-up for the IPL when Delhi Daredevils (now Capitals) bought him for ₹1.2 crore. He was handed an India cap in October 2018 for the Test against West Indies in Rajkot.
India’s 293rd Test cricketer also became its youngest centurion on debut.
But not everything was hunky dory. When Shaw was sent back from Australia, there were reports that he was casual about fitness. According to a Mumbai Cricket Association insider, during last edition of the Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Shaw was also warned for late nights.
As he gets back to cricket, Shaw would find India coach Ravi Shastri and Mumbai coach Vinayak Samant in his corner. In an interview to this paper, Shastri had said Shaw is part of the “system” and that he has spoken to him. “He is going nowhere,” Shastri said. “Mumbai cricket will always support him. He will definitely come back strongly,” said Samant.
(With inputs from Sanjjeev K Samyal)