Prodigy Prithvi Shaw will have to carry the awesome burden of being labeled

Prithvi Shaw slammed 546 off 330 balls. (Photo courtesy: DNA)

His record 546 runs on Wednesday was a culmination of the rigorous efforts through the years during which he scored loads of runs. With the enormous support from his father, 14-year-old Prithvi Shaw, barely five feet tall, has given copious evidence of star in the making. Abhijit Banare looks at the young prodigy who has turned out to be the next big thing for Mumbai cricket after Arman Jaffer and Sarfaraz Khan.

Back in January 2011, a 12-year old kid slammed 92 against a Madhya Pradesh side in an Under-14 tournament. More than the innings, it’s the team he played for makes more relevance now — Sachin Tendulkar XI. Within a week of the Little Master retiring, Prithvi Shaw‘s mammoth feat of scoring 546 attracted more eyeballs and the media jumped into the fray for comparing him with the legend. Yet the 14-year old cricketer is unfazed about the comparison, and carries on with admirable intensity and focus.

The prodigy had already attracted enough spectators even while batting in local matches in Virar where he used to reside initially before moving to the Santacruz residence, gifted by a local corporator. It was under coach Santosh Pingulkar, Prithvi’s gifted skills were channelised.

Raju Pathak, his present coach at Rizvi Springfield, says, “Some of the senior cricketers he played there with, advised his father to take him to Mumbai where there are more opportunities. That’s when he came to Rizvi. He started under me almost eight years back — when he was six-years old. He was in second or third grade, but he couldn’t play for one-or two years because he was very young.. But I had seen him play 10 years back. And at first instance I knew that he is a gifted player.”

The journey has not been without roadblocks. At an early age, Prithvi had to cope with his mother’s demise, but his father ensured that his son never had to feel the burden. “His father has been very mature. He has a bit of cricketing knowledge. He prepares food for him, helps his daily routine, brings him from Virar to Bandra and then takes him to Churchgate. He has made a lot of sacrifice for him. Prithiv’s father has been both father and mother to his son,” says Pathak.

In the run-up to the record on Wednesday, Pathak says that a big innings was something he had expected. “He had two hundreds in the U-16 trials, then a ton in the Kanga League. When a batsman has scored centuries and double centuries, the confidence and temperament is already in place. I said to him that there is a great opportunity for you to score more runs this season. He had scores like 150, 195, 219, 225 in the past few years. Till last year, he used to throw his wicket away while in in good form. He has developed a sense of maturity. Every time we play, I just tell him what the situation is and what is expected, that’s it. He just goes out and does his task to perfection.

Prodigy Prithvi Shaw will have to carry the awesome burden of being labeled

Some of the top national newspapers carried the story of Prithvi Shaw. While DNA (left) gave a full page coverage in its sports section, Times of India, carried it as a front-page news.

“But at no point of time I pressured him for records. In fact he wasn’t aware much about it. And I haven’t done that with Armaan [Jaffar] and Sarfaraz [Khan] as well.”

To score half a thousand runs is monumental; it can tax even the fittest of men — Prithivi is only a child. Says the prodigy: “I was beginning to tire. I ran a lot between wickets. But when you are getting runs, these things take a backseat. The joy of getting a century, then a double ton, a 300, 400 and finally 500… is magical. The high of a big century helps overcome tiredness,” he was quoted as saying in the Times of India.

In the past three seasons, three cricketers (Armaan Jaffar, Sarfaraz Khan and Prithvi) have shattered the imagination of everyone breaking records in a sequence. In 2009, Sarfaraz Khan slammed 439 in a Giles Shield match. Armaan Jaffer bettered it with a 498 and also scored the highest in Harris Shield with a 473. Prithvi went a step ahead and broke the 500 barrier — 546 in the match against St Francis D’Assissi in the elite division. Rizvi slammed 991 with Prithvi sharing a 616-run partnership with Satyalakshya Jain (164). He was finally out caught at the record score made in just 330 balls laced with 85 boundaries and five sixes.Arthur Edward Jeune Collins (628 not out at the age of 13) and Charles John Eady (566 at the age of 31) are the only batsmen who scored more runs than Prithvi in an innings in competitive cricket.

Even though he has been scoring heavily, his exploits at a young age and two stints in England at Manchester and Gloucestershire respectively earned him more recognition. His coach says, “In England, he mostly played T20 and ODI matches. Here he has played three-day cricket, and there is a lot of difference.”

The young talent was also spotted and documented as one of the three stories in Sushrut Jain’s award-winning documentary ‘Beyond the Boundaries’.

How Prithvi, Armaan and Sarfaraz handle their fame, attention and media blitz are important factors going in their quest to make it to the international stage and make it big where it counts the most.

List of most runs in all forms of cricket:

Player Score For Against Season
AEJ Collins 628* Clarke’s House North Town 1899
CJ Eady 566 Break-o-Day Wellington 1901-02
Prithvi Shaw 546 Rizvi Springfield St Francis D’Assissi 2013-14

Highest Individual scores by Indians in minor cricket

Player Score For Against Season
Prithvi Shaw 546 Rizvi Springfield St Francis D’Assissi 2013-14
Dadabhoy Havewala 515 BB & CI Railways St. Xaviers 1933-34
Chaman Lal 502* Mehandra College Patiala Government College Rupar 1956-57
Arman Jaffer 498 Rizvi Springfield IES Raje Shivaji  Vidyalaya 2010-11
Ravi Deshmukh 442 Baroda University Akola University 1978-79
Sarfaraz Khan 439 Rizvi Springfield Indian Education Society 2009-10

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)