Prithvi Shaw and Teenage Debut for India
Teenager Prithvi Shaw makes sensational Test debut
Mumbai opening batsman Prithvi Shaw made his Test debut against West Indies in the Rajkot test on October 4, 2018. Prithvi has been creating continuous ripples ever since his first-class debut in January 2017 where he scored a match winning century in the fourth innings of Ranji semifinal at Rajkot – the same venue. Under his captaincy, the India Under – 19 team became world champions earlier this year. Prithvi has been amongst runs not only for his Ranji team Mumbai, but for India – A also, where he scored 188 against West Indies – A and 136 against South Africa – A. Prithvi has scored as much as 7 centuries in only 14 first class matches with an average of 56.72. He has shown his form in recent Vijay Hazare trophy also where he amassed 287 runs in only three innings with a strike rate of 143.50. Prithvi’s debut would stretch Mayank Agrawal’s wait a little longer. Another prolific scorer in domestic circuits, Mayank scored 2141 runs across formats in 2017-18 season – most by any Indian batsman in a single season.
Teenager debutants who made big names
Syed Mushtaq Ali was the first Indian cricketer to make his debut as a teenager, when he took ground at the Kolkata test (1934) at the age of 19 years. In fact, another teenager – CS Nayudu – made his debut for India in the same test. Syed Mushtaq Ali went on to become the first Indian batsman to score a test century away from home when he scored 112 at Old Trafford and made a double century stand for first wicket with Vijay Merchant to save India from a certain defeat. India’s domestic T-20 championship consisting of Ranji teams is named after Syed Mushtaq Ali.
Prithvi Shaw is the 30th Indian teenager to make test debut. While going through the list of teenage debuts that Indian test team has seen, we find names of many stalwarts of Indian cricket – Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, S Venkataraghavan, Mohinder Amarnath, Dilip Vengsarkar, Ravi Shastri, Maninder Singh, Lakshman Sivaramakrishnan, Chetan Sharma, Narendra Hirwani, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma etc. There are three names in the list who had an outstanding impact on the game.
When a teenager opened the bowling for India against Pakistan in Faisalabad test (1978), no one had imagined that one day this lad would be called “Haryana Hurricane” and would change the face of spin-dominated Indian attack forever. Within five years of his debut, he captained India to World Cup title. He retired as the most successful bowler on planet. His name was Kapil Dev.
When a bespectacled tall teenager went on to bowl for India at Old Trafford test (1990), no one had imagined that this fighter would go on to become India’s most successful bowler and most successful match winner India has ever produced. His name was Anil Kumble.
When a 16-year-old teenager went on to bat in Karachi test (1989) against the most dreaded pace attack Pakistan has ever had – consisting of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, no one had imagined that one day this kid would be called “Master Blaster” and would rewrite almost all batting records in international cricket. His name was Sachin Tendulkar.
However, off-late, Indian team hasn’t seen a teenager making a test debut. This is largely due to Indian team’s successful and consistent test combination over the years. On the other hand, there is so much cricket in form of IPL, T-20 and ODI’s that by the time a player gets a test call, he has passed his teens. The last teenager to make a test debut for India was Jaydev Unadkat – way back in 2010. So Prithvi Shaw should consider himself fortunate that he got the chance while he is still there in his teens. And he used the opportunity to the fullest by scoring a stroke-packed hundred and became India’s first teenager to score a hundred on his debut. He also became youngest Indian to face the first ball of a test match.
Hailing from same Ranji team, having similar playing style and technique and emulating feats like centuries on Ranji Trophy debut as well as Duleep Trophy debuts (missed a century on his Irani Trophy debut, though scored a half century), comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar are bound to happen. And the comparison started within four days of Sachin’s retirement – when as a 14-year-old schoolboy, Prithvi scored record 546 runs for Rizvi Springfield in a Harris Shield match against St. Francis. Comparisons and expectations would grow by every passing day. That is where the real test of Prithvi Shaw lies – handling pressure of huge expectations. Hope this is just the beginning of what should be a very long journey, full of milestones.