India's Kuldeep Yadav with Prithvi Shaw
India's Kuldeep Yadav with Prithvi Shaw Image Credit: AFP

When Prithvi Shaw made his Test debut in 2018 and scored a hundred against West Indies he became the youngest Indian debutant centurion. There was a talk that India has found another exceptional talent and he was even compared to the great Sachin Tendulkar.

He had already shown from his early days what a talent he was when he scored 546 runs in one innings at the age of just 14 in school cricket. He was also the youngest to score a century in the Duleep Trophy and when he made his Ranji Trophy (both domestic tournaments), he had scored a match-winning hundred for Mumbai.

Given his performance, Shaw was named the captain of the Under-19 India side that went on to become world champions in 2018. His flair in that World Cup fetched him an Indian Premier League contract from Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals).

He had a tough time in Australia in 2020 in his only Test down under and there were calls that he lacked the technique to play the swinging ball. But after that in 2021, he went back to the drawing board and corrected his game to score a whopping 827 runs in the Vijay Hazare trophy at a strike rate of 138. He followed that up with 308 runs in the IPL in just eight matches at a strike rate of over 150.

The way he bats is reminiscent of Virendra Sehwag, who is fearless and goes after the bowling from ball one. What makes Shaw exceptional is that he has got all the shots in his arsenal. Only time will tell whether he can be successful in red-ball cricket in swinging and testing conditions, but in white-ball cricket and specifically the T20 format, he is a dynamo who can get his team off to an electrifying start.

With T20 having evolved so much in the past few years with teams such as England and West Indies playing gung-ho cricket, India will need Shaw to give them that rollicking start from ball one in the shortest format.

For Shaw to get into the India team for T20 World Cup, he will have to have a good series in Sri Lanka. In the first game, set the template of the innings by scoring a quick-fire 43 off 24 balls, which was a treat to the eyes, as they were all classy cricketing shots. He will also have to be consistent in the IPL — which takes place just before the T20 World Cup in October in the UAE — to be considered as India has the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Dhawan all competing for the opening spot.

India have not won the T20 World Cup since the inaugural championship in 2007, which was won by a young team under MS Dhoni, and this is India’s best chance if they back young, fearless players like Shaw who are tailor-made for this format.