A match decided in the first over, how often have we seen that? Very rarely. That’s what happened when Prithvi Shaw’s six boundaries launched the Delhi Capitals to a comfortable win over the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League 2021. Well, you could argue that Kolkata could still have reeled Delhi in if they had grabbed a couple of early wickets.
But that didn’t happen. Simply because the 25-run over from KKR’s Shivam Mavi allowed Delhi to seize control of the game, and they never surrendered it. Instead, Delhi built on the advantage as Shaw continued to attack bowlers, irrespective of their mode of operation, skill or reputation.
KKR didn’t do themselves any favours with a tepid batting performance, and the result was a relatively easy target. But that doesn’t take anything away from the brilliance of Shaw’s strokeplay.
How Shaw fixed his technique
For Shaw, there’s plenty to prove: his technique and temperament, to be precise. In the previous edition of IPL, Season 13, Shaw cut a sorry figure. In the handful of games he played, Shaw got out cheaply and lost his place in the Playing XI. The Australia tour too was a disaster for him, with the pace bowlers repeatedly exposing Shaw’s weakness against the balls that swung into him.
You cannot survive in international cricket with any apparent weakness. Ask Suresh Raina about his dislike of the short ball, and you’ll know why such a superb stroke-maker never fulfilled his promise in the international arena. At 21, Shaw’s too young to let his talent go waste.
He is a precocious talent, no doubt about it. And Shaw’s got plenty of self-belief. That helped. More help came from coach Praveen Amre, a former Indian international, who analysed Shaw’s technique and suggested improvements.
In the Vijay Hazare tournament, Shaw was a batsman transformed. A good run of scores gave him confidence, and his aggression returned. Four centuries propelled him as the leading run-getter in the tournament with 827 runs, ahead of Devdutt Padikkal (737) of Karnataka and the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
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When IPL Season 14 rolled in, Shaw was ready. His positive approach was reflected in the string of good scores. None better than the 82 against KKR on Thursday. And those six fours in an over underlined his rich vein of form. Some of the deliveries were not bad. It was Shaw’s tremendous confidence that helped to send them racing to the ropes.
His innings was so dominant that it left Shikhar Dhawan in the shade. Dhawan is no slouch. He loves to play his shots, but on the day he realised the red-hot form of Shaw and was content to play second fiddle giving as much strike to his partner. That was smart cricket. So, by the time the inevitable clatter of wickets came, Delhi were firmly on the road to victory.
This certainly was one match where the chase was decided in the first over. Kolkata could never get the breakthrough, although captain Eoin Morgan threw in all his bowlers searching for a wicket. But Shaw was relentless.
So, will Shaw make the T20 World Cup squad for India? There are far too many contenders. So, it’s not an easy call. But Shaw certainly has thrown his hat into the ring.