Prithvi Shaw jumped, ducked and lost his balance a bit. The 17-year-old Mumbai batsman didn’t look comfortable playing a fast bouncer bowled by New Zealand pacer Adam Milne on Tuesday.
Milne gave Shaw a little stare. The youngster didn’t shy away. He stared back.
Probably expecting the rattled youngster to hang back on his feet after that short ball, Milne pitched the next ball on a good length. Shaw planted his left foot out, took it slightly away to his right, and clobbered the ball straight down above the sightscreen for a six.
Standing at mid off, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson saw the ball sail over Milne’s head, and then, for a brief second, turned his head towards Shaw.
He probably saw quality, the kind that is rarely seen in a 17-year-old.
Here was a boy who grew up playing in the maidans of Mumbai with others his age, now playing in the Brabourne Stadium with and against international cricketers much older and taller than him.
But not once did Shaw seem intimidated by that. Throughout his 80-ball stay in the middle on Tuesday, in which he scored 66, Shaw looked like a batsman who belonged to this stage.
Probably facing an international fast bowling attack comprising the likes of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Milne for the first time in his career, Shaw was all at ease in countering the threat of the swinging new ball as well as the trick of the spinning one.
The right-handed batsman made a statement from the onset, smacking a crisp cover drive off Southee in the second ball of the match. Opening with India Test batsman KL Rahul, Shaw matched him toe to toe and shot for shot from thereon in a dominating 147-run partnership.
Both had nine fours, one huge six, brought up their half-centuries in 62 balls, but threw their wickets away in the 60s.
And that’s the biggest lesson the promising Shaw can learn from his knock that sucked the zeal out of the Black Caps. Barely an over after losing his partner, Shaw tried to hit left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner out of the park, only to be holed out at long off.
It was an unnecessary shot at an unnecessary time, one that Shaw can avoid in similar situations with more experience going ahead.
For now, though, he continues to spread awe.
“I heard he was 17. I couldn’t quite believe it,” Boult said of Shaw’s innings after the match.
“He played very nicely. I think the ball swung around nicely at the start, and it didn’t seem to trouble him. He is probably one of many that have a promising career ahead of him, if all things go well. But, very impressed from the first look,” he added.
Astle suffers groin injury
New Zealand had an injury scare on Tuesday when their leg-spinner, Todd Astle, left the field due to a groin injury after bowling just three balls. A Black Caps official said that Astle will be assessed over the next 24 hours to see if he can be fit to play in the series.
The 31-year-old Astle was chosen ahead of Ish Sodhi for the ODI series after he picked up eight wickets in five games in New Zealand A’s recent series against India A in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam. If he doesn’t recover, it is expected that Sodhi, who has stayed back after the A series and who bowled on Tuesday, will fill the spot.