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October 09 2018

The Story Begins As Prithvi Shaw Makes His India Debut

- by Benny Thompson

On the 16th of November, 2013, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar exited a cricket field for the final time. His emotional farewell speech still echoes in the ears of every Indian cricket fan. Soon enough, the search for the next Tendulkar would begin. Everyone would scour the country for a glimpse of talent, a hint of that glorious cover drive, something to ease the pain of the Master’s departure.

Just 4 days later, the answer would arrive. A 14-year-old kid would strap up and take the field and go on to score 546 runs in the Harris Shield tournament, the same tournament where Sachin first rose to prominence. There was no escaping the media after that. Every newspaper, every news channel, every blog report had Shaw’s name and photograph plastered on it next to the tagline ‘the next Tendulkar.’

Even for a player at his peak, that is the kind of expectations that makes you crumble and lose your way. But not Shaw. He was just 14 but at every step it has seemed like it has always been his destiny to don the India shirt.

He lost his mother at the age of 4 and ever since then his father has been taking care of him. So much so that he shut down his business in 2006 so he could accompany his son on the two-hour-long commute to and from cricket practice every single day. 12 years on, the efforts have paid up and Shaw senior can proudly watch as his son makes his inevitable India bow.

After that majestic knock in 2013, Prithvi soon bagged a Rs 36-lakh sponsorship deal with SG that eased the financial burdens on his father. From living 70 kms away from the training ground, he relocated to central Bombay to help him focus on his cricket.

With every match and every knock, his legend would continue to grow. He spent the summer, aged 14, playing and impressing for Cleethropes in the Yorkshire Premier League. Back home, at just 16, he would go on to help India win the Under-19 Asia Cup. Another milestone awaited him when he returned as Mumbai – impressed by his Asia Cup performances – handed him a Ranji trophy debut, in the semifinals, no less. In the second innings against Tamil Nadu, he would go on to score a debut century, a feat previously achieved by a teenaged Tendulkar.

After his man of the match performance, the 17-year-old Shaw would make his Duleep trophy bow and score another debut century. Yet another record he shared with Tendulkar. The similarities have been obvious at every step on the way.

At the start of 2018, he was named the captain of the India squad for the Under-19 team. Of course, he would go on to lead India to the trophy. During the tournament, he was signed by Delhi Daredevils at the IPL auction for Rs 1.2 crores. He scored an impressive 22 runs off just 10 balls on his debut. Four days later, he would become the joint youngest player to score an IPL fifty.

With every step, at every stage, the legend has continued to grow. A call up to the senior Indian team had become just a matter of time. He was named in the squad for the final Test against England but did not get his chance. But he did not have to wait too long, just a few weeks later, he finally gets his chance, at home against the West Indies.

On the 4th October, 2018, almost 5 years after he first stole the headlines, Prithvi Shaw – still just 18 – becomes the 293rd Test player for India. But the story isn’t over yet. In fact, the story has just begun.

Prithvi Shaw. Remember the name!

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