Ahead of the second Test against the West Indies in Hyderabad, India skipper Virat Kohli has called for “some space” for the teenage prodigy Prithvi Shaw, whose strokeplay has led to people comparing him with the legendary Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
Living up to the hype of India’s next batting superstar, Prithvi Shaw smashed a century on his debut match in international cricket. Shaw, at 18 years and 329 days, notched the three-figure mark off 99 balls against West Indies on Day 1 of the first Test at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot.
Shaw’s 134 led the foundation for India’s mammoth first innings total – 649/9 (declared). Subsequently, Indian bowlers ripped through the Windies batting line-up in both the innings and secured a thumping innings and 272-run victory.
“I don’t think he should be rushed into anything yet because you need to give a youngster a space to grow, in his own abilities. This guy is supremely talented and he has got great ability as everyone saw,” Kohli said while addressing the media on the eve of the second Test.
“We definitely think he (Shaw) has it in him to play at the highest level and he can repeat what he did in the first game. He is a very keen learner, a sharp guy. He understands situations well. We are all very happy for him,” he added.
Kohli endorsed the viewpoint of veteran India opener Gautam Gambhir, who doesn’t find it fair to compare Shaw to Sehwag.
“We shouldn’t compare him to anyone yet. We shouldn’t put him in a space where he feels pressure of any kind and he should be left in a space where he enjoys his cricket and slowly grows into a player we all believe in,” the Indian captain asserted.
Kohli admitted that the high-profile tournaments like IPL, the A tours and the live coverage of U-19 tournaments have put youngsters under instant spotlight and they are more equipped to handle pressure now.
“Definitely it could be one of the reasons (early exposure) because they are already exposed to the environment that the international game would replicate. But there’s always pressure of playing for the country,” Virat said.
“When you get that cap in the morning of the game, there’s always butterflies in the stomach and I am sure everyone feels that pressure. But I am sure it is not as intense as 10-15 years back, when you didn’t have any exposure in this kind of cricket and suddenly you are put out there in a Test match making your debut for India – the highest or toughest thing there could be.”
“IPL is one of the tournaments that had helped youngsters not get overawed by top flight cricket. So I agree with the fact that they have played in situations in the IPL where they play in front of so many people that they are not nervous anymore at the big stage.
“...I think they are not overawed by the scenario and I think that’s always going to be an advantage because the guys coming in can start doing the job from game one which both these young guys have done that and Hanuma (Vihari) as well. They are supremely confident guys, those who are coming up (the ranks),” he explained.
Kohli registered his 24th Test ton in the first innings of Rajkot Test. He ran nearly 100 runs (99) in singles and doubles. Talking about this aspect of his game, Virat said he has now reached a stage where he can bat for two days piling up runs in singles and doubles.
“You also have to realise that by the time the middle-order walked in at that game, the ball was soft. The pitch was not as quick, the harder ball comes onto the bat, so you have more boundary opportunities,” he said.
“You can run your way to a hundred as well. There’s no harm in that, I think with that mindset you understand your game you can bat all day, you can bat for two days and just score in singles and doubles,” the Indian captain continued.
However, this particular scoring method is only possible with clarity of mind.
“You don’t necessarily need to hit a boundary and if you are convinced about that in your own head then the bowler gets to know as well and then the battle of patience starts. So I think you have to be convinced first that you can play all day with singles and doubles and not necessarily wanting to hit the big shots but given an opportunity, obviously you’ll cash in on the loose balls. I think defence and understanding your off stump and being happy with that set up is the most basic in Test match batting,” Kohli concluded.
(With PTI inputs)