Prithvi Shaw announces return after doping ban
After a doping ban of eight months ended on Friday, it was a nice feeling for the 20-year-old, who scored 63 off 39 balls in his first comeback game at the Wankhede Stadium.Updated: Nov 18, 2019 08:16 IST
After reaching his half-century, Prithvi Shaw tapped the bat face, gesturing as if to say: “I’m letting my bat do the talking”. After a doping ban of eight months ended on Friday, it was a nice feeling for the 20-year-old, who scored 63 off 39 balls in his first comeback game at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai’s last group game win over Assam in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy. The under-19 World Cup-winning skipper chose his words carefully, careful not to stir up another controversy.
“I’ve been feeling good about my batting since I started practice again. I would say I was in touch. I was desperate to play for a while now. I was really excited about the game today, what better than our winning,” Shaw said after Mumbai’s 83-run victory.
What did he do during the break? Bide his time and hone his skills. He travelled to London for a short visit as he couldn’t train before September 15. As the end of his ban neared, he spent the last few weeks at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru under the guidance of Rahul Dravid and faced the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and Varun Aaron in the nets.
For a player known to spend a long time in the nets since his school days, Shaw said time away from the sport was difficult to deal with.
“For the first 20-25 days after I was banned, I was not able to make sense of things. After that I steadied myself, kept myself mentally stronger. But it kept getting harder with each passing day,” said Shaw, who was handed a back-dated eight-month ban on July 30.
“As the day of return came closer, I started to get my act together. Had I gone into a shell, I would have felt pressure during the game. But whatever happens is for good. I committed a small mistake, but that’s in the past.”
Shaw’s last innings before the ban came at the same ground on May 28, in the Mumbai T20 final. He scored a 55-ball 61, leading North Mumbai Panthers to the title.
On Sunday, Shaw initially showed some nerves, mis-timing a couple of shots, but what followed was a delightful display of stroke play, the hallmark of Shaw’s play. He hit some crisp flicks, pulls and lofted shots, dismantling the Assam attack.
Aditya Tare’s (48-ball 82) onslaught in the opening exchanges allowed Shaw to take his time. They stitched a 138-run opening stand before the former was out. But it had laid the platform for Mumbai’s huge total. Siddhesh Lad’s unbeaten 14-ball 32 helped Mumbai post 206/5. The bowlers then restricted Assam to 123/8.
Shaw got a reprieve in the 12th over after lofting left-arm spinner Abhilash Gogoi down the ground, but the catch was spilled and went over the boundary. He then hit two back-to-back sixes before reaching his half-century with a boundary in the next over off seamer Abu Nechim.
Shaw said he entered the game with an open mind. “As such there was no plan when I went into bat. I just wanted to put away the balls that were in my area,” he said.