"The more consistent I am, the better it will be for me. There are people watching too, like the selectors, and it is important to be consistent. If you score a hundred in one game and then don't do much in the next three or four matches, then that hundred doesn't mean anything. I have learnt from many experienced players in the Mumbai team as well as the India A team how to be consistent. That helps a lot to ensure that I don't get into bad form."
Those words sound like they’re coming from a player who has seen ups and downs in his career, someone who has spent many years on the field which has made him experienced enough to know the value of consistency.
However, it's quite a surprise when you get to know that these thoughts were actually conveyed by Mumbai’s 18-year-old batting sensation Prithvi Shaw, in an interview with ESPNCricinfo, after he scored his third first-class century against Tamil Nadu in Ranji Trophy six months back.
At 18 years of age, Shaw has already drawn comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar having scored centuries on both Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy debuts. Moreover, a total of five centuries in just 10 first-class games gives an idea about the talent that Shaw has. And if these feats were not enough, the way he led the Indian team to win U-19 World Cup title this year, once again confirmed his status of a future star.
Despite this early U-19 success, it generally takes time for players to pick up the same pace at the international level and highly-competitive tournaments like the IPL which witnesses the participation of the biggest international stars.
However, with his recent exploits with the bat for the Delhi Daredevils, Shaw has not only proved that he is ready for the big stage, but has also set the standards of performance for established and experienced domestic players higher than before.
He has 205 runs to his name in five IPL matches so far this season at an average of 41.00 and a scintillating strike rate of 170.83. And those runs include two scores of sixty-odd runs as well which give us an idea about the impact he makes at the top of the order.
He started off his IPL career with a thunderous cameo of 22 runs off just 10 deliveries against the Kings XI Punjab which showed the immense confidence he had in himself. His confident stroke play and no fuss attitude towards all the bowlers was visible in that very game and this gave an idea about what was coming in the matches afterwards.
He followed that innings with a scintillating knock of 62 runs off just 44 deliveries against the Kolkata Knight Riders, a bowling line-up which featured a fearsome and intimidating bowler like Mitchell Johnson. Although he failed to make a meaningful impact in the next game against the Chennai Super Kings, getting dismissed for just nine runs, he returned back to business with scores of 47 and 65 against the Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad respectively.
His knock of 65 runs off just 36 deliveries was the most aggressive of all the innings he has played so far in this tournament. He took the attack on to a bowling line-up that is considered to be the best in this tournament. He spared no one in his blitzkrieg as he smashed the bowlers all over the park. Starting from classy drives and wristy flicks to fierce cuts and pulls, Shaw’s innings had everything to add to the delight of the fans and pundits alike.
If it wasn't for Rashid Khan’s genius with the ball, the 18-year-old Mumbaikar looked well on course to a century. But more importantly, he provided Delhi the platform for a big score which they eventually failed to achieve.
Shaw’s brilliant innings was probably overshadowed by Delhi’s loss in the match but that will not stop him from continuing his rich vein of form and aggressive strokeplay that he has put on display so far in the tournament. After all, aggression is something that comes naturally to him.
It is true that Shaw had the chance of converting each of his previous five innings into something big if he would have decided to play throughout the innings. But he decided to play according to the needs of the team each time trying to be as aggressive as possible as other big hitters always waited in the dug-out to maximise the runs.
One would only be foolish to say that Shaw doesn't have the temperament to play big and long innings. He has a record of scoring 546 runs in a single innings in the Harris Shield tournament as a 15-year-old. Besides that Shaw also has scored double and triple centuries in various tournaments at the junior level. So the well-known ‘khadoos’ attitude of a Mumbai cricketer is well imbibed in him since a young age.
“Right from the start, ever since my U-14 camps, all the coaches had taught me about the 'khadoos' (gritty, unrelenting, win-at-all-costs) spirit of Mumbai cricket. So right from very young age they have instilled this 'khadoos' attitude in me. Since that point I have developed this attitude (and hunger for big scores),” Shaw had said in an interview with Firstpost back in January 2017.
So the 18-year-old with such a mature head on his young shoulders looks set for bigger things in the time ahead. There are still five games to go in the league stages and Shaw will look to make the most out of those opportunities once again.
From here on, it remains to be seen when the selectors are going to consider it as the right time to call him up to the Indian team. He already looks to be almost a finished product now. Still he should be groomed for another couple of years to provide him with the final touches. However, one should not be surprised if he is fast tracked into bigger things sooner rather than later.