Kohli shields ‘boy wonder’ Shaw from Tendulkar shadow
Hyderabad: Virat Kohli sought to protect prolific teenager Prithvi Shaw on Thursday from the weight of comparisons with India legend Sachin Tendulkar after the young batsman’s Test debut century last week.
Another century in the second match against the West Indies which begins on Friday in Hyderabad would see Shaw join a small group of greats including Mohammad Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly and Rohit Sharma who all hit tons in their first two Tests.
The 18-year-old became India’s youngest player to score a debut century and his country’s second youngest in all Tests after Tendulkar — who was 17 when he made an unbeaten 119 against England in his ninth Test.
Shaw’s sparkling 134 in the first Test rout in Rajkot had some commentators dubbing him India’s “boy wonder” ahead of the tour of Australia next month.
But captain Kohli warned India’s notoriously demanding fans not to expect too much too soon from Shaw, who was earmarked as a future star when as a 14-year-old he hit a record 546 off 330 balls in a Mumbai school game in 2013.
“We are all very happy for him but I don’t think we should compare him to anyone yet or we should put him in a space where he starts feeling pressure,” Kohli said.
“He should be left to enjoy his cricket and slowly grow into the cricketer that we all believe he can be,” said Kohli who hailed the diminutive right hander as “supremely talented”.
“He has shown that in the first Test already and we believe he can keep repeating that because he is a very keen learner, he is a very sharp guy and he understands situations really well.”
Kohli said Shaw, 21-year-old wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant and batsman Hanuma Vihari, 24, had learnt to handle the stress of top competition by playing in the Indian Premier League.
Big stage veterans
“One always feels that pressure when you wear your country’s cap on the morning of the match but yes, I think it’s not as intense as say 10-15 years back when you didn’t have any exposure to this kind of cricket,” said Kohli.
“They have played in situations like the IPL where they have played in front of so many people that they are not nervous any more of the big stage,” he added.
“They are not overawed by the scenario and I think that’s always going to be an advantage because the guys can be fearless and they can start doing the job from game one.”
Shaw’s 2013 schoolboy exploits had already caused comparisons to be made with Tendulkar, who rose to prominence in the same Harris Shield competition more than two decades earlier.
Shaw went on to make more headlines in India with debut centuries in both the domestic Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy and he was awarded the captaincy of country’s Under-19 team.
He led them to success in the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand this year where they beat Australia in the final.
He has featured for Delhi Daredevils in the 2018 IPL but it was his debut Test ton, with 19 boundaries, that saw the rest of the cricket world take notice.
“Wow, carry on young man good luck,” wrote former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar on Twitter.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: “Wow ... 18 yrs old @PrithviShaw. 100 on Test debut . Looks like #India have another superstar”.
India squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Lokesh Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur (Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)