The discussions are still on about the possibility of giving Prithvi Shaw a game, but it won’t be a surprise if he does get to make his debut in this series.
Shared News | Updated: October 17, 2018 10:14:19 am
Prithvi Shaw, who made a sensational start to his Test career, is likely to open with Rohit Sharma during this One-day International series against West Indies. Post the review meeting with the team management last week, the selectors are keen to rotate senior players to ensure they stay fresh before next year’s World Cup and try out new faces in the process. The discussions are still on about the possibility of giving Shaw a game, but it won’t be a surprise if he does get to make his debut in this series.
The senior selection committee, headed by MSK Prasad, has already declared the Indian team for the first two ODIs against West Indies and it’s expected that they will try out the likes of Shaw in the remaining games. The review meeting was attended by the selectors, captain Virat Kohli, coach Ravi Shastri, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane.
A source, who was privy to the meeting told The Indian Express that, “With an eye to the World Cup, the main focus was how to rotate players. In fact, more than rotation, it would be more about how to save our key players. That’s why you would see the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Mohammad Shami in and out of the squad, not playing regularly. The players who are important for all formats will be adequately taken care of. Going ahead also, these things will keep happening.”
The way Dhawan and Rohit have successfully opened in ODIs, they remain the first-choice pair for the team, but the management is keen on trying out Shaw to give themselves more options. Also, importantly, the motive is to keep the senior players fresh.
In 22 List A games (the domestic 50-over matches), Shaw has scored 938 runs at an average of 42.33 and at a strike rate of 115.37. He has already hit five fifties and three hundreds. In the 50-over leg of the India A tour of England in July, Shaw was the second highest, after Mayank Agarwal, scoring 353 runs at 58.33 at a strike rate of 122.56. Shaw currently is playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy for Mumbai, who will take on Hyderabad in the semifinals in Bangalore.
He is just 19 but he is no fly-by-night operator. In fact, he is someone who has steadily grown in the ranks of Mumbai junior cricket. He has adapted to the problems over the years. Like the tendency to throw his wicket away after making a good start.
“I was flashy at under-14 and under-16 too where I would score 30-40’s fatafat and get out in that flow. I used to be really upset. At under-19 level, I started doing the same. At that time, I controlled myself. I practised against the bowling machine, just face balls outside the off-stump around that line, and focused on which to play and which to leave. Now I think I am not chasing balls like before,” he had once told this newspaper.
With the mental game sorted out, he then started facing a minor technical problem with his batting. In particular, his back-leg movement. It’s still an issue, as in it’s still an area that he constantly works on. He had a tendency to move his back leg at times to outside the leg stump line to facilitate his penchant to score through the off side. Just as the bowler is about to release the ball, he would move his back leg, the right leg that is, to the on side. During the India tour of England, he had worked with Rahul Dravid, who didn’t want to change his technique too much but it’s learnt that it was addressed.
When he arrived to play for the India senior team in England, it was interesting to see the first three days at the nets. The first day, the back leg movement to the on side wasn’t visible. Near the end of the training session, it began to reappear. On the second day, it became more pronounced, which led Ravi Shastri to have a long encouraging chat with him. He took him aside and the pair were seen talking about the technique. Back again, on the third day, Shastri watched him closely, shouting words of encouragement at nearly every decent shot the youngster played. In theory, the problem foreseen was that he might end up playing too much away from the body due to that movement. During the West Indies series, the back leg technicality crept up now and then, but Shaw impressed everyone with his mental and tactical approach of staying aggressive and backing himself.
Since the ODI wickets in general are anyway flat, there isn’t likely to be much of a problem for Shaw but it’s important to note and register it as a record of how much he works on his batting.
‘Born to play cricket’
The efforts that fetched him the man-of-the-match award in his debut series against West Indies were enough for Shastri to roll out the raves. “He is born to play cricket. He’s been playing since the age of eight in the maidans of Mumbai. You can see all that hard work showing. He’s a spectator’s delight. There’s a bit of Sachin there, a bit of Viru in him and when he walks there’s a bit of Lara as well,” Shastri said.
In his brief domestic career so far, the plans against him reveal how much he is rated by the opposition. The opposition bowlers just don’t turn up and focus on the off-stump corridor as they would against most opening batsmen, especially someone who is so young. Instead, they try to attack his strengths. Like in the Ranji Trophy final against Gujarat, RP Singh, former India bowler, tried to induce a mistake from one of his strengths: the cut shot. He started pushing it wider and wider and did get his man to a cut shot.
“I understood their plan. They set me up on the off… Main maarta hi hoon cut. It’s my shot so I don’t stop even if there are 10 fielders there I will play,” Shaw had said. It’s a type of approach that has earned him comparisons with Sehwag. But as seen, he immediately then returns to the drawing board to iron out flaws. The cut shot isn’t seen by him as a flaw and he realises that it’s more about shot selection.
If he does get a chance in the ODIs against West Indies, it can be expected that he would keep going for his shots and remain aggressively positive. And if he comes out successful, the team management and selectors would love the happy headache of having a young aggressive opener in the mix for the World Cup.
Umesh in for Thakur
Meanwhile, paceman Umesh Yadav was rewarded for his maiden 10-wicket haul in Test cricket with a recall in the ODI squad as a replacement for injured Shardul Thakur. Thakur’s Test debut ended in a nightmare in Hyderabad as he bowled only 10 deliveries before hobbling out with a groin strain.
There has been considerable debate as to whether Thakur was fully fit and proper rehabilitation was done before naming him in the Test squad. Umesh got the nod from the selection committee after his superb show in Hyderabad where he got 6 for 88 and 4 for 45 in the two innings. He has so far picked 105 wickets from 73 ODIs with his last appearance in July against England at the Lord’s.
India Squad (first 2 games): Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wicket-keeper), Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Khaleel Ahmed, Umesh Yadav