Shaw reign begins with a century

Shaw reign begins with a century

Prithvi Shaw celebrates after scoring a century during the first day of the first Test against West Indies in Rajkot on Thursday. AFP

Small in stature, Prithvi Shaw has developed a reputation of conquering major hurdles with ease.

The talk of Indian cricket for close to two years, Shaw’s toughest test had arrived on Thursday. Not that a failure on his Test debut would draw harsh reactions from the experts. But for the Mumbai lad, this was a good chance to make himself feel he belonged to the big stage.

Once the action got underway here at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium on the first day of the first Test against the West Indies, Shaw, displaying remarkable composure, made it appear that the pressure around his maiden international game was more on his well-wishers and family members.

His century (134, 235m, 154b, 19x4) that broke many a record was undoubtedly the highlight of the day as India reached a commanding 364/4 at stumps.

There were other significant contributions, like Cheteshwar Pujara’s solid 86 (130b, 14x4) or skipper Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 72 (137b, 4x4) -- another quality knock. But they stood second best to Shaw’s effort in terms of significance.

Shaw raced to his half-century in 56 balls. Known for his fine conversation rate, he brought up his ton in a little over 30 minutes into the post-lunch session. The youngster, who drove a Keemo Paul delivery to deep cover to reach the milestone, punched his fist in the air in delight.

Shaw is the second youngest Indian Test centurion behind the legendary Sachin Tendulkar. He is the youngest from the country and seventh overall to score a century on debut. That was not all as Shaw joined 14 other Indians who have scored a century on Test debut.

It was a no-brainer for Kohli to elect to bat on a placid pitch. The visitors drew first blood, dismissing K L Rahul off the last ball of the first over. The Karnataka batsman was trapped in front after a Shannon Gabriel (1/66) ball moved in sharply. The review expectedly went against India. That minuscule period was the only time when there were two sides in the game.

Shaw’s most preferred shot, the cut past point, got him his first boundary. In his 235-minute stay, the same shot came to haunt the visitors many times. Soon after lunch, he swept leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo twice for four in the same over. Roston Chase, the lanky off-spinner, too was punished. Shaw’s aggressive approach comes with risks and his stay in the middle wasn’t perfect. The 18-year-old’s wild slashes went to fours in the vacant third-slip area a couple of times. Into the nineties, Shaw didn’t turn circumspect as he struck a delightful cover drive off Gabriel to inch closer to the three-figure mark. 

His dominance was, in part, was the result of an insipid bowling performance from the West Indies. Gabriel generated pace, sometimes touching the 150kmph mark. But he lacked support as the other young pacers, debutant Sherman Lewis and Keemo Paul, were inconsistent in their lengths.

They missed their captain Jason Holder, who sat out due to an ankle injury. Kraigg Brathwaite, who took over the leadership duties, appeared to have a defensive mindset. Early on, he removed his best bowler Gabriel after a very short spell of 4-1-10-1. But the Indians weren't complaining.