October 4th, 2018 – It was a day that Prithvi Shaw will forever remember after being handed his Indian test cap, but what was to follow those scenes made his test debut for his country a remarkable one.
India headed into this two-game test series without in-form opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan alongside a host of other key names missing as they geared up to play the West Indies. With that in mind, India already had 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw in the squad as well as the addition of Mayank Agarwal who was coming off a stellar batting period in the Ranji Trophy where he averaged over one hundred for the tournament. Agarwal pleaded his case to the selectors as he produced a stable 90 at the top of the order in a tour match against the West Indies, Shaw on the other hand missed out scoring just 8 off 10 deliveries. This is where things get interesting, despite Agarwal’s prolific Ranji Trophy stint backed up by a convincing knock for the Indian Board President’s XI against the touring Windies, India opted for the teenage opening batsman instead. It looks as if India wants to trial youth over experience with some of their star players absent from the test side, and in the end they probably made the correct decision given what transpired yesterday.
Getting the nod for the first test against the West Indies, you can’t say Prithvi Shaw didn’t deserve it looking at his impressive first-class record. Having played just the 14 matches, the 18-year-old has scored five fifties, seven centuries and averages 56.72. He’s been in outstanding form in domestic limited overs cricket as well with scores of 98, 60 and 129 in his last three outings for Mumbai. Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot was an ideal venue for the teenager to make his debut, not an overly big stadium in terms of crowd capacity which would have made him feel right at home. Fast-forward to the coin toss, Virat Kohli wins the toss and elects to bat first which would have given the debutante heart palpitations. Walking out to the middle with KL Rahul in his test debut, the nerves would have risen to a whole new level after his partner was trapped in front and given out in the first over of the innings. The West Indies could smell blood early and looked up and about, for India it was just a matter of settling down the tempo to suit their batting.
They did exactly that as Shaw and Cheteshwar Pujara teamed up at the crease in what was set to be a lengthy second-wicket partnership. Both batsmen were quick to find comfort out in the middle as they started to play themselves into the innings nicely with some crisp ball-striking resulting in boundaries. The Windies bowling dropped off significantly as they were made to pay a hefty price at the expense of Shaw who continued to dispatch overpitched and short deliveries to the fence. With no signs of stopping, Shaw registered a century on debut along with a 206-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara who also looked in phenomenal touch with the willow. The teenage opening batsman went on to score 134 off 154 balls featuring 19 boundaries in his innings, he was finally dismissed just before the tea break by spinner Devendra Bishoo with a pretty simple caught and bowled dismissal.
It was a dominant day of test cricket for India, but an even more special one for Prithvi Shaw who undoubtedly just accomplished a childhood dream after scoring a century on debut for his country.