Memories of '92 rekindled, when Prithvi Shaw emulated Sachin Tendulkar in Sydney
Notes from Prithvi Shaw's practice session in Sydney, the same venue a certain Sachin Tendulkar stamped his mark 16 years ago
The pair of security guards at the Sydney Cricket Ground practice nets are mesmerised as Prithvi Shaw punches a length delivery past the bowler. "Who is this kid? He looks like he is in school, but he's smashing all the big blokes around," says one of them at the fabled cricket venue yesterday. The big blokes are considerably taller than Shaw and a couple of them have already played for NSW.
The practice pitches are fresh and the new ball is flying through. Apart from the net bowlers, Shaw is also facing Nuwan, the left-arm throw down specialist, who can hurl the ball at 150kmph.
The first few balls zip past Shaw. He ducks and sways, but underneath his helmet grill is a smile. In the space of a dozen balls, he is already on his toes and forcing the ball off the back foot. "Shot, Prithvi," exclaims Ajinkya Rahane. Shaw is loving the challenge of conquering the bouncy track.
Assistant coach Sanjay Bangar gives him a few pointers and Shaw carries on merrily. In couple of weeks, he will be facing the Australian pace attack and he wants to ensure he has all the solutions. He requests Nuwan to bowl around the wicket and at this body. There is no fear, just sheer quest to be perfect. As one ball jumps from a length, Shaw quickly takes the bottom hand off and is then assured by Bangar that it wouldn't have carried to short leg.
Just when you think he is done with the pace bowling, he jumps to the bowlers' end, moves the stumps back a yard and gets Bangar to throw the ball from various angles and pace into the footmarks. This is Shaw getting used to Nathan Lyon bowling into the footmarks.
It is fascinating to watch. One ball jumps, one keeps low and a few slide on. Rarely is Shaw beaten, he knows he has the shots, but this stint is about perfecting his defence.
Shaw is more than just a batsman. There are only the five batsmen and two support staff members so he doubles up and helps out like a good team man. The minute the other teammates are in the nets, he is bowling into the rough to ensure they get substantial practice. He gives catches to Parthiv Patel and encourages Hanuma Vihari.
Importantly, he is giving himself a chance to prosper in the Test series which kicks off at the Adelaide Oval on December 6. He is touted as the next Sachin Tendulkar and on the evidence of his practice sessions, it seems Shaw has already started to have an impact on the cricketing public Down Under just like Tendulkar did way back in 1991-92.
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