Rajkot, Oct 05, 2018: Coach Prashant Shetty had no doubts about the boy’s talent. And almost 10 years after that bold move, Shetty stands a proud man, for his ward has captured the nation’s imagination with a spectacular century on his Test debut.
Shaw, just aged 18, hit 134 (154b, 19x4) in the first Test against the West Indies here at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium, reaching a high point in a journey marked by hard work and plenty of sacrifices. He is the youngest to hit a century on debut from India and also the 15th Indian to achieve the feat.
“The moment we saw his skills, the coaches in our academy had a chat and we asked him to face bowlers from the U-20 category. Of course, we instructed the bowlers not to bowl bouncers. He was very short, so we arranged for a chest-guard as a safety measure,” recollected Shetty as he basked in reflected glory.
With a high backlift, strong back-foot play and a range of shots, Prithvi Shaw impressed his coach Prashant Shetty at the MIG Cricket Academy in Mumbai as a nine-year-old. Shetty realised quickly that he was dealing with a special player.
“When we saw what he was capable of, we gave him enough exposure. We made sure he played a lot of matches. He was a quick learner. We had to make some adjustments in his stance and he corrected in no time,” Shetty told DH after his ward’s exceptional performance on Thursday.
Shaw’s hunger for scoring hundreds was on view in the local tournaments before he broke into the State side. “He would only talk about cricket. And once he would start batting in the ‘nets’, he wouldn’t stop for at least three hours. We had to stop him after a while. Otherwise he would go on and on.
“This kind of hard work helped him make big runs consistently. Of course, he would only think of attacking the bowlers after crossing 50 and sometimes would get out without scoring a century. I spoke to him about the importance of taking singles. The coaches in our academy also spoke to him about the greats of Mumbai cricket and asked him to emulate them. That inspired him” recollected Shetty, who was Prithvi’s Mumbai U-14 and U-16 coach.
Shaw’s growing popularity gained added value when the legendary Sachin Tendulkar noticed him once at the academy. “He was here at the academy and one of my colleagues, who is Sachin’s close friend, asked him to take a lot look at Prithvi. Sachin was really impressed and predicted that Prithvi would go on to play for the country.”
Shetty was happy that Shaw made his debut in the longest format of the game. “I was worried that after his success in the U-19 World Cup and IPL debut, he would be categorised as a limited overs’ specialist. Thankfully, he got a chance to play his maiden game for India in a Test, which is the toughest form of the game. His fast rise to fame isn’t a surprise to me as I always knew he was gifted,” he said.