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England vs India: The meteoric rise of Prithvi Shaw

The 18-year old may well be the solution for India's opening batting woes.

Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw of India A. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

James Anderson has a smile on his face. As he should. The terracotta Lord’s balcony in all its glory is right behind him, as it has been in the last couple of decades. At 35, he is fit as a fiddle. On strike is India’s rock – Murali Vijay. In contrast to his flamboyant partner Shikhar Dhawan, Vijay’s wicket is a prized one.

In fact, the last time Vijay toured England, he triumphed. The victory with the bat was so profound that he was the number one priority for the ‘Broad-Anderson’ partnership. And he was back. This time to do battle alongside a new-look side – one that epitomized ruthlessness and results.

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A juicy outswinger leaves Anderson’s palm and Vijay’s bat, quite fortunately for the latter has missed his blade. ‘Not good enough lad,’ Anderson quips with a smile running across his face. He knows he has Vijay in a corner. And Vijay knows that he needs to begin scoring runs. And fast. The penultimate delivery of the over and Anderson has dismissed Vijay. The 33-year old is seemingly in a rut. In spite of his exploits against Afghanistan, the openers have had it tough in seaming conditions.

Taking stock after the match in Trent Bridge, it may very well seem as though the ‘Real India’ is back. Yet, the opening batting has been a cause for concern. With the openers laying the foundation for the rest of the side, the need for change is more or less apparent.

The Shaw factor

As the selectors sat in their haven of a dimly lit room, Prithvi Shaw was doing battle in a Quadrangular series against the South African ‘A’ side. At 18, the youngster still has a long way to go. However, some tremendous batting coupled with apt leadership has ensured that Shaw is indeed one of the few who has a place waiting for him in the team.

As things stand, the Indian selectors are in a luxury of fielding three teams of world-class repute. The manner in which they have gone about stamping their authority in the last decade or so has been mind-blowing, to say the least. And Virat Kohli is certainly in the hot seat. It would be rather foolish to drop Dhawan given the lack of left-handed batting in the side, and thus, a scenario arises – one that witnesses Dhawan partnering the young Shaw at the helm.

Of course, one simply cannot jump to conclusions. Especially, after the selectors decided upon sending the erstwhile Hanuma Vihari on the same flight. Vihrai’s 148, though exuding brilliance of batsmanship, still may not be enough to get him into the team.

The bigger problem as far as the Indians are concerned would be that of the slip-catching. The standards might have been set high by the likes of Tendulkar and Dravid, but the catches simply have not stuck. Despite Rishabh Pant making strides longer than Dinesh Karthik, and KL Rahul adding a bit of spiderman webbing to his fingers, catching seems to be an issue to address.

The U19 World Cup in Tauranga earlier this year introduced the world to the brilliance of Prithvi Shaw. The comparisons with Sachin Tendulkar immediately became apparent – the first one being the number 100 on his back. The MRF bat, in its obvious sense, does convey a lot, but it was the bat that eventually would do the talking.

The boy has talent. There is simply no doubt, but it is his temperament that counts. And it is temperament that has led to the loss of several talents in the past. However, he seemingly had no problems as looked at complete ease. The drive off the pads, a shot which makes him near-invincible is something that he is beginning to perfect, a stroke that saw Virat Kohli shoot to fame.

Shaw’s chances in England

In the context of the Indian team in England, many an expert would reckon that they have finally arrived, especially following the terrible outing in Lord’s. While Kohli would certainly not want to change a winning combination, the Indian skipper is known to be one who takes the odd risk in selection.

The first Test without Cheteshwar Pujara proved this as a valid point. Rishabh Pant made his debut while Jasprit Bumrah is back in action.

Needless to say, the stage is set for Prithvi Shaw. Whether or not he gets the nod remains to be seen. With the roster of the team changing ever so unpredictably, Shaw will also realize that he has one shot at making a permanent impact on the side, something that will be lingering in the back of his mind.

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