A prodigal talent, Prithvi Shaw has been making headlines since 2013 when he scored the highest-individual score in Harris Shield, a century-old inter-school tournament in Mumbai. From school cricket, Shaw rose through the ranks of Mumbai cricket and earned himself the prestige to captain the Indian team in the Under-19 World Cup of 2018. He led the Boys in Blue to an enigmatic victory in New Zealand that year.
Shaw continued his dream run and started flourishing in the domestic circuit of Indian cricket while scoring regularly in the India A colours as well. And soon the national team came calling as Shaw made his international debut in September 2018 against the West Indies. Scoring a century in his debut match, he became the second-youngest Indian and the youngest debutant to hit a Test century.
However, his meteoric rise suffered a pre-mature landing when he got injured and was sent back from the Australia tour of 2018-19. The injury was followed by a brilliant IPL but an eight-month doping ban seemed too much for a 19-year-old. But the natural talent he is, Shaw made a brilliant comeback and scored 240 runs, with two fifties, in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2019 before following it up with a double ton in Ranji Trophy.
He sustained his run-scoring form and scored a brilliant 100-ball 150 for India A in their second practice game against New Zealand XI on Saturday. On the day when the BCCI is expected to announce India’s Test and ODI squad for the New Zealand tour, Shaw has certainly forced his way into the selectors’ minds. However, his selection will come at the cost of some of the other openers who are in the frame as well.
Following are the three openers’ names whose place can be sacrificed due to the red-hot form of Prithvi Shaw:
1. Shubman Gill
Shaw’s U-19 World Cup teammate, Shubman Gill is another bright prospect for the upcoming days. He has been picked into the national squad on a number of occasions, for both Test and ODI series, but has played only two ODIs so far and is yet to make his red-ball debut for the Indian cricket.
Gill has a brilliant average of 63.33 in first-class cricket for his total run of 1710 in 19 matches. His List A figures are equally impressive. He has amassed 2250 runs in 56 matches at an average of 45.91.
However, courtesy of Shaw’s brilliant run of form, the first axe is likely to fall on Gill. The 20-year-old has been the first-choice reserve opener, at least in Tests, but Shaw has made a strong claim for that role with his performances with the willow.
2. Shikhar Dhawan
If Gill has the chance to become Shaw’s victim in all-whites, Shikhar Dhawan is likely to face the heat in the Blue. Shaw had a good IPL in 2019 and is enjoying the same kind of dominance for India A as well. And the national team’s dressing room in limited-overs is surely going to open for him sooner than later.
Off late, Dhawan has been facing a lot of injuries which have disturbed the line-up on numerous times. Shaw has a brilliant List A record which makes his case even stronger and Dhawan’s age is another factor which will act against the veteran.
Shaw has scored a total of 1045 runs in 26 List A matches at an average of 40.2 and strike rate of 114.3. Though his T20 numbers are not that impressive, he bats at a strike rate of 149.1, compared to Dhawan’s mid 120s.
3. KL Rahul
KL Rahul is one opener whose position as the opener was always in flux. With Rohit Sharma and Dhawan, he has been forced to play down the order where he is doing relatively well. But one might have expected that with Dhawan’s age and injury factor, Rahul was in contention to settle at his favourite place.
But with the inception of Shaw, Rahul’s hopes of becoming the first-choice opener for India might be put on hold once again. He has already lost his place as a regular opener of Test squad to Mayank Agarwal but is likely to be picked for New Zealand tour.
Shaw, though, with his first-class figures of 2099 runs from 36 innings at an average of 61.7 and a Test average of 118.5 is any day a better red-ball prospect than Rahul. And it will be on the latter and the selectors’ minds.
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