‘As a 9-year-old, he faced bowlers twice his age’

‘As a 9-year-old, he faced bowlers twice his age’

Prithvi Shaw celebrates after scoring a century in the first Test against West Indies at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium in Rajkot. AFP

It takes some courage to put a nine-year-old batsman against bowlers double his age. But if the player has the talent and is willing to have a hit, why not give it a shot?

Coach Prashant Shetty had no doubts about the boy’s talent. And almost 10 years after the bold move, Shetty stands a proud man, for his ward has captured the nation’s imagination with a spectacular century on his Test debut. 

Prithvi Shaw, all of 18, hit 134 (154b, 19x4) in the first Test against the West Indies here, reaching a high point in a journey marked by hard work and plenty of sacrifices.

He is the youngest to hit a century on debut from India and also the 15th Indian to achieve the feat.

“The moment we saw his skills, the coaches in our academy had a chat and we asked him to face bowlers from the U-20 category. Of course, we instructed the bowlers not to bowl bouncers. He was very short, so we arranged for a chest-guard as a safety measure,” recollected Shetty as he basked in reflected glory.

“Prithvi’s father was strict and he wanted him to score a century in every single game. There were financial issues and their lives depended on cricket. Prithvi, who had seen his father struggle for his sake, knew he had to succeed. In that way, he was a mature kid. He had to travel more than two hours in the morning and evening for the academy but not once did he complain,” Shetty said.

After his special knock, Shaw was quick to thank his father. “I want to dedicate this hundred to my dad, he has made a lot of sacrifices for me, he’s still doing it. He’s been very helpful throughout my journey. I can’t list out all the things he has done but he has worked for me a lot,” said the youngster who lost his mother at a young age.

For someone whose world revolved around cricket, Shaw’s only other interest was Chinese food.