Struggling to assemble a kit for the India U19 tour, Pavan Shah returned with a record

Pawan now holds the record for the highest individual score by an Indian in Youth Test cricket.

Pavan Shah
Pavan Shah. (Photo Source: Twitter)

He didn’t have a bat he could confidently take along, neither a kit to support his dream of wearing the Indian jersey. All Pune’s Pavan Shah had was the focus on his game, the outside world was of little significance to him, never more than his cricket. After being named in the India U19 team for the tour of Sri Lanka, Pavan realized he would need a new bat.

His father who is a worker at a vehicle manufacturing company arranged money for his son but the 18-year-old and his coach Mohan Jadhav were out on the streets of Pune hunting shop after shop in search for a bat that fit his requirements and their crunch budget. He approached a lot of people to help them with gloves, pads and other requirements but to no avail. That’s when Mohan decided to call up a man he knew could work something out even in the eleventh hour.

Prakash Palande a cricket agent by profession was only concerned about making sure a deserving cricketer had all the tools he needed to go out there and express himself. Jadhav terming him a guardian angel says that they had a new kit in their hands in just a couple of days and Pavan now was given the wings he needed to fly.

That he scored 282 in just his second knock for India U19 to leave Palande teary-eyed and affirm Jadhav who is a coach at the Vengsarkar Academy in Pune’s faith. He recalls the first time he met a plump looking kid at the academy.

“He would have been 11 or 12 years old. It was late in the evening, players senior to him were playing a match. I noticed this boy sitting there and watching curiously. I enquired what he was doing there, he said ‘I am just watching’. It was just a gut feeling and I asked Pavan to pad up and made him face the captain of the bowling team who was a medium pacer. He bowled it short and for a kid, that young turned into a bouncer, but the shot he offered told me this kid wasn’t just ordinary.”

“I met with his parents and asked them to change his school so that he could attend evening training with me. Since then we’ve developed a great bond and I’ve relished this opportunity of living my own dream through his journey,” he said while talking to CricTracker.

“His batting is really a great mixture of skill and application. He drives the ball well, hits it down the ground and his natural hand-eye coordination also helps him to hit it square of the wicket and that equips him to play all around the wicket,” the coach further added proudly boasting about the youngster who just helped India U19 win the Youth Test series 2-0.

Jadhav over the years has thrown his ward in the deep end of the pool and if he didn’t swim out in the first instance, the experience has helped him when it was a real match situation. Since their team was without a proper wicketkeeper and the short boy moved really well, he made Pavan keep wickets for one whole year.

Once they were short of a bowler and Jadhav made him bowl only to realize the opening batsman could not just bowl seam up but had the natural ability to swing it away from the right-handers. He used it to great effect in one of the tournaments and ended up as the best player for his bowling effort.

“I really loved watching cricket from a very young age and when I was 8 I told my Dad that I wanted to join some academy. We went for the trials and fortunately, I was selected at first go. My only objective has always been to enjoy the game and that’s what I try to do every time I am on the field,” an enthusiastic Pavan said complementing his coach all the way.

Jadhav’s instincts guide the youngster

One fine day, Jadhav instinctively told Pavan that he will be batting at six down in the match they would play on the next day. He had never done it before and just the fact that his coach would send him out to bat so low in the order put him off.

“The way he was training I knew he hadn’t taken it well. The next morning when I saw him warm-up there was little intensity, he couldn’t tell me that but being out of the comfort zone made him anxious and he was restless. That morning, after observing him for a while I told him that he will be batting at his regular position and I made up the No.7 thing to see how he would react.

“He had tears in his eyes having failed the mental test but then assured me he wouldn’t let something of that sort hamper his mental space,” Jadhav described.

He was picked in the West zone team for the U19 Interzonal tournament 2018, that team had four opening batsmen and Pavan had to sit out in the first game. The right-handed batsman from Maharashtra who opened or played one down was made to bat ‘six down’ and he responded exceptionally. An unbeaten 70 against North zone took his team over the line and the next match he earned the right to open.

India U19 selection news

He only bettered his performance and scored a 103 against the Central zone and followed it up with another half century. A performance of that sort coach Jadhav was sure wouldn’t go unnoticed and thus he wasn’t surprised when he got the India junior team call-up.

Pavan, on the other hand, was sleeping in his room when his mates banged on the door several times when he didn’t seem to care someone shouted that they were there to inform him that he was selected in the India U19 team. He didn’t believe it immediately and said those guys would be in trouble if it was a prank.

“It just didn’t occur to me, understanding that took a while but when I actually got to know that I was picked in the team, it was an amazing realization,” the 18-year-old said.

What was on his mind going into the 2nd Youth Test against Sri Lanka U19 after having scored 38 in the first match? “I just wanted to bat and remain unbeaten, one session at a time. After a while I started hitting the ball really well and I knew I was in the zone. I just capitalized on it and nothing else,” that’s how subtly he describes a knock during which he stayed at the crease for 486 minutes and faced 332 balls.

Batting at No.3, Pawan now holds the record for the highest individual score by an Indian in Youth Test cricket and was just 18 runs short from becoming only the 2nd player to score a triple ton in this format.

He continued to do well on the tour scored a 49, 77 and a couple of 30s in the Youth ODIs if nothing else his performances have ensured that Pavan no longer needs to worry about a professional cricket kit and all the equipment he would need for the next match.

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