IMAGE: Prithvi Shaw smashed a brilliant 379 off 383 balls against Assam — the second highest individual score in the history of Ranji Trophy. Photograph: Prithvi Shaw/Instagram
A few months ago, Prithvi Shaw had posted a message on his Instagram handle: “Hope you are watching everything Sai Baba”.
It was a young man desperately seeking some divine intervention after being pushed to a corner. He was being judged by people who didn’t even know him and those fair weather friends weren’t around when he needed them most.
“I think that post was just about if he (Sai Baba) is watching or not. That wasn’t for anyone. It was a deeply personal thing,” Prithvi’s voice was unusually calm as he spoke after his marathon 379 off 383 balls in a Ranji Trophy match against Assam in Guwahati on Wednesday.
In close to nine decades of Indian first-class cricket history, Shaw has the second highest individual score after Bhausaheb Nimbalkar’s 443 for Maharashtra against Kathiawar in Pune back in 1948-49.
Call it Indian cricket’s voluminous supply of talent or his pure bad luck, Prithvi has scored runs across formats and in terms of sheer talent, he should have been in the team. But perceptions in Indian cricket fly thick and fast which can make or break careers.
“Sometimes, you do get frustrated,” said the Under-19 World Cup winning India captain.
“You know you are doing your things right. You know you are doing your processes right, you are honest with your self, disciplined with your career on and off the field. But sometimes people do talk differently. People who don’t even know you judge you,” the hurt was palpable in his voice.
Success makes one wiser but rough times tend to make you mature a tad faster. It has happened with the 23-year-old, who now knows and can identify who all are his well-wishers of him.
“People who are not with me when I am not doing well, I don’t really care about them. Just like to ignore them. That’s the best policy,” said the second man after Sachin Tendulkar to hit a Test hundred in his teens .
The trolls on social media or the adverse comments don’t bother him anymore.
“I use social media but all my posts are done by my manager, he handles my stories and posts. I dont really see what’s going on. I try and shut myself from all this stuff and if I am doing things right and my processes right , this kind of day will come again and again.”
It is perhaps about time that Prithvi should ideally get a national recall but with Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Shubman Gill and Abhimanyu Easwaran ahead of him in the Test pecking order, one doesn’t know how the door will be unlocked.
“I am not even thinking if someone is going to call me in the Indian team. I am just trying to do my things right which I can and not to think too far ahead. I am a person who loves to live one day at a time. I have to make my today right. I am playing for Mumbai and the goal is to win Ranji Trophy,” he said.
He has got thousands of congratulatory messages on all his accounts including some personal ones. It is difficult to choose.
“Lot of people praised and expectations are high. I hope I have made them happy.”
A score of 400 doesn’t happen everyday in first class cricket. But had he not been adjudged leg before off Riyan Parag’s delivery, he might have crossed 400 on the day.
“It feels really nice. I could have made that 400. I think I was batting really well but it was just a matter of time as big runs weren’t coming. I thought, I should give myself more time out there in the middle , display patience and the track needed that,” Prithvi explained.
“The pitch did offer seam movement at the beginning and then as the overs progressed, it started keeping low.”
He was indebted to skipper Ajinkya Rahane (191) for his guidance during their 401-run third wicket stand.
“It feels really nice to bat with a player of his (Rahane’s) stature. Someone with so much of international experience. His mere presence around this Mumbai side lifts us up. I always try and learn when an international player comes and plays with us ,” he said.
As far as technical changes are concerned, playing close to the body has been his top priority in order to counter the seam and swing movement.
“Just trying to play close to my body. Red ball in conditions like these seams around. I am that kind of player who loves to keep the scoreboard ticking and at times you have to put your head down and bat according to conditions. These small small things made a huge difference,” he said.