Prithvi Shaw
Prithvi Shaw (IANS photo)

Prithvi Shaw on Thursday announced himself with a dominating century on debut against West Indies. During a record-breaking knock, the 18-year-old Mumbai batsman scored 134 runs which had 19 fours in it.

The boy-wonder drew widespread praises for his superlative knock as he became he youngest Indian debutant to hit a Test century. Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar has known Shaw when he was a 10-year-old and to him what stands out is the way the youngster is able to adapt his game depending one the situation and conditions on offer.

“Whatever I have seen of him, he’s been a fast learner,” Tendulkar was quoted as saying by The Times of India on Friday. “To me, being talented is one thing but what you do with that talent becomes more important. If you want to succeed at the international level you’ve got to be a fast learner. And Prithvi is a very good learner. When somebody has to perform and sustain at this level, and play cricket at different grounds and conditions across the world for a long time to come, adaptability becomes the critical factor. I feel he has the knack to adapt to different situations and conditions. To me, that is Prithvi’s biggest strength.”

Shaw lived up to the hype as he made his international debut during a year when he led India U-19 to a World Cup title in New Zealand and then while playing for India A, piled on the runs.

Tendulkar, who witnessed a similar start to his professional career, says by hitting a century on debut, Shaw has crossed the first hurdle. “I’m sure it must be extremely relieving that he’s been able to get a big score in his first outing,” Tendulkar said. “A big question mark always is ‘a guy has done well at the domestic level, now will he be able to do the same at the international level?’ However talented the guy is, there is always a question mark. And a century kind of seals it. The figure is magical. Everyone starts thinking differently. As far as I am concerned, the first hurdle that he was going to encounter is out of the way now. It cements your spot in the team and help you announce to the world that you belong here.”

Recently, Tendulkar narrated how he first saw an 8-year-old Shaw whom he earmarked for bigger things after seeing him bat. What stood out for Tendulkar at that time was Shaw’s ‘exceptional hand-eye coordination’.

“At that age, the hand-eye coordination he had, the way he picked up the line and the length. It was really exceptional. At that age, no one can generate power. That comes with age. But technically how many guys are so correct. I could see that he had that natural talent, a gift and I felt not many guys have that,” he said.

Shaw, who averaged an excellent 56.72 in 14 first-class matches before playing his first Test, had spoken to Tendulkar about his back-foot play.

“He discussed it with me some time ago and all I asked him was ‘have you been feeling uncomfortable about it?’ His answer was ‘no’. ‘Are the bowlers feeling uncomfortable about it/Is the scoreboard speaking for you?’ – Then why change anything unnecessarily. When things are not broken, don’t break them so that you can mend them again. If you’re being able to adjust, then it’s fine. In time, there’ll be a lot changes taking place in your game with experience. And you’ve got to ride that tide,” Tendulkar said.