Kolkata: When India came back after a miraculous 2-1 series win against Australia in January, youth Prithvi Shaw was perhaps one of the few members of the jumbo squad who did not exactly cover himself in glory. If anything, the Mumbai-based opener’s confidence was in tatters after failing in both innings of the first Test in Adelaide as the experts ripped apart the flaws in his technique.
The 21-year-old, hailed as the next big thing in Indian batting when he scored a century on Test debut in 2018, became the fall guy alright - but he was smart enough to realise that the only way to respond was to let his bat do the talking. And that’s precisely what he is doing now in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, the 50-overs first class domestic tournament of BCCI, which assumes great significance in the absence of the Ranji Trophy due to COVID-19 pandemic this year.
On Tuesday, Shaw as the Mumbai captain, wreaked havoc against the attack of Saurashtra - the current Ranji Trophy champions - when he broke former India skipper M.S. Dhoni and Virat Kohli’s records of the highest individual score by an Indian batsman in a List ‘A’ chase. Shaw was on fire when he hammered an unbeaten 185 off 123 balls - his third century (one of them being a blistering double ton in a 50-overs game) as he looked like a man on a mission.
The match-winning efforts of Dhoni and Kohli had, of course, come in international fixtures when Dhoni had smashed an 183 not out against Sri Lanka in Jaipur in 2005, while Kohli also hit 183 to steer India to a six-wicket win over Pakistan in 2012 Asia Cup. However, there was no mistaking Shaw’s intent as he guided Mumbai into the semi-finals of the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy on Tuesday.
Shaw was at his best, smashing 21 fours and seven sixes as he and Yashasvi Jaiswal stitched a mammoth 238-run stand for the opening wicket against an attack which boasted of the likes of former international paceman Jaydev Unadkat. Shaw had earlier taken the hapless Puducherry bowlers to the cleaners to hit 227 for his second century, with the first one (105) coming against a balanced Delhi team.
The Delhi Capitals management asked me to work with Shaw as he is one of our key batsman and it’s imperative that he gets his touch back as soon as possible. I could just work with him for five days as he had to join the Mumbai camp
What made the difference to his confidence levels within such a short time? Speaking to Gulf News during an exclusive chat over phone, Pravin Amre, a former Indian international and a batting guru to the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Shaw revealed that Delhi Capitals - the IPL franchise that they play for - stepped in to help.
‘‘The Delhi management asked me to work with Shaw as he is one of our key batsman and it’s imperative that he gets his touch back as soon as possible. I could just work with him for five days as he had to join the Mumbai camp,’’ said Amre, who moved over to the Delhi franchise from Mumbai Indians as their batting mentor for the 2021 season.
What were the areas that Amre could work upon, given Shaw’s problems were more with the red ball when it swung or seamed more? ‘‘See, the idea was to bring his confidence back, work on areas like how he could present a full face of the bat and a few other things, We were working at my clinic at Shivaji Park in Mumbai, where Shaw had played a lot of his cricket and was extremely comfortable. ’’ he said.
‘‘Ours is still a work in progress, but it’s heartening to see how fearlessly Shaw is striking the ball again,’’ Amre added.