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Prithvi must be handled with care

IT would be most unfair to hail schoolboy cricketer Prithvi Shaw as a successor to Sachin Tendulkar who bid cricket goodbye only a few days before Prithvi’s near-unbelievable 546 for his school Rizvi Springfield in the Harris Shield.

Sure, Prithvi matches Tendulkar’s schoolboy feats but it will be warped to predict that he can reach the heights of the cricket legend.

Firstly, Prithvi’s transition from school cricket to a higher level must be smooth. While the Mumbai junior selectors would be keener to see how he fares, the kid also has to be given ample opportunities at the club level.

He has talent, hunger and stamina -- all these qualities came to the fore during his mammoth innings this week --  but any negativity in terms of reluctance to blood him on the senior club circuit won’t do his future any good. Prithvi must be tested.

He may fail on a higher stage, but needs to be persisted with. It must be stressed, he is no flash in the pan having already proved himself as Mumbai’s best young batsman with his pre-546 performances in school cricket.

Pitting kids against established players in club cricket is at the very heart of Mumbai cricket’s traditional strength and Prithvi’s journey must not take place without this happening.

Like in every emerging player’s case, there are fears and self-doubt. No player is insulated from these deterrents, but Prithvi belongs to a cricketing set-up where it is not hard to find mentors. He already has some good guides.

The Mumbai Cricket Association must ensure he gets the right kind of guidance and training to take his great schoolboy performance to another level. Far too many players, who have performed in the city, have turned to other states for opportunities like Sanjay Bangar, Abhijit Kale and even Zaheer Khan.

Some of them genuinely couldn’t force their way into the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team, but there have been cases where players walked away because they felt unwanted.

Prithvi must be made comfortable enough not to harbour such thoughts and to stick to his aim of donning the lion-crested Mumbai cap in first-class cricket. After all, he belongs to the city of great batsmanship. 

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