When Prithvi Shaw first came to get admission in his Academy, he was merely a 12 years old boy, all his mother wanted was a place where to let your kids run free so she could take him there. There were almost none to believe that this kid, who looked like a stump, is going to make it to the highest level of cricket. But Raju Pathak did believe. In a recent chat with the CrickerSoccer, Prithvi’s school cricket coach revealed how he has witnessed and encouraged the rise of the new wonder kid in Indian Cricket.
Here are the excerpts:
CricketSoccer (CS): Did you identify any special talent when you first saw Prithvi Shaw?
Raju Pathak (RP): When he first came to my training camp at Rizvi Springfield School at Mumbai, Prithvi was merely a stump size kid. At first, to be very honest, I was not too sure about his future in cricket. But after seeing his fluent strokeplay at the nets, I was convinced that this boy is going to make it to the biggest stage.
CS: What is your most cherishing memory of young Prithvi?
RP: He was a sensation in Mumbai school cricket, especially after the mammoth innings of 546 runs in Harris Shield, the school cricket tournament in Mumbai. I was the coach of his school team and witnessed the innings very closely. He hit almost 90 boundaries in that innings and went on to bat for 2 days. His partnership with Satyalakshya Jain was of 619 runs. Prithvi played proper cricketing shots. He played flick and drive with ease. I didn’t expect an under 14 cricketer to play these two shots with such command. Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli created history in this Harris Shield. The very next day, Prithvi was being termed as the next Sachin in Indian cricket. I can never forget that particular innings that Prithvi played that day.
CS: Could you remember any other innings of Prithvi played at that time?
RP: Yes. Prithvi scored a magnificent 156 runs in a school match, against all the odds. There was a trial match for Mumbai under 16 team and seven of our school team cricketers went for that trial. But we had a school match as well and that too against a very good team. Prithvi was our only ray of hope. But he fell sick just ahead of that match. He hada high fever. We were in great trouble. Miraculously, Prithvi turned up at the field on the morning of the match day and said he was ready to play. We let him play the match. Our opponent got all out at 156 runs. Then Prithvi came out to bat and scored 156 runs and single-handedly won us the match. That showed his character. He is hungry for success and wastes no opportunity. That’s why he is so successful in each and every level of cricket.
CS: How was his early life?
RP: He had to struggle a lot. He lived at Bhirar which is 65 kilometres away from Bandra. From there, he took the train every morning and came to practice at Bandra. He was never absent. He is very serious about his cricket. His father, Pankaj, is very supportive. He always encouraged Prithvi and sacrificed a lot to fulfil the dreams of his boy. Prithvi has lost his mother but Pankaj never let him feel alone.
CS: How would you describe his century in test debut?
RP: Prithvi deserves it. The day before the Rajkot test, he called me up in the evening and told me, “Sir, aap chinta mat karo. Main taiyar hoon.” (Sir, don’t worry. I’m ready). I knew that he would have a great match which he indeed had. What was most pleasing was that he keep his calm and never let his nerves affect his natural ability of batting. I still believe that he should have scored a double century in that match. But nevertheless, he has left a mark. More matches he will play for the national team, more matured he will be. He has played a lot of club cricket in England and I firmly believe that he will be successful outside the subcontinent as well. Let’s wait and watch.