VOICES PUSHPESH PANT G PARTHASARATHY ANAND NEELAKANTAN GAUTAM CHINTAMANI YOGESH VAJPEYI SADHGURU JAGGI VASUDEV BUFFET MAGAZINE PEOPLE WELLNESS BOOKS FOOD ART & CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT NEW DELHI OCTOBER 14 2018 SUNDAY PAGES 12 134 Runs made by Prithvi Shaw against West Indies make him the second youngest Indian to score a Test century after Sachin Tendulkar. “Scoring myself and getting the team to a win on my debut, couldn’t have imagined it. I feel good. Whenever you play international cricket, there is always a challenge. I was looking to play my natural game, the way I play in first-class cricket, and play the ball on merit.” Prithvi Shaw India opener 120 ILLUSTRATION: TAPAS RANJAN Runs Shaw made on first-class debut. The knock came against Tamil Nadu in the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy in 2016-17. He also went on to score hundreds in his first Duleep Trophy and India A games. 1 Shaw is the first Indian teenager to face the first ball of a Test match. Overall, he is the fourth youngest after Hamilton Masakadza, Tamim Iqbal and Imran Farhat to do so. “Shaw’s grip, his stance, he stays very still at the crease and plays his shots around the wicket. He plays the ball quite late and is quite punchy in his strokeplay and has an excellent base to play any shot from any bowler. He’s just so much like Sachin Tendulkar.” Mark Waugh, former Australia batsman “It was all a blur for me. It was all happening tuk, tuk, tuk, you know. State debut as a 15-year-old. Some other debut as a 16-year-old. Even before I was an adult, I played for India. Maybe everything happened too soon. I do know there was a sort of expectation from me, even though I was still only a boy.” Maninder Singh, former India spinner #Teendulkars Starting young makes cricketers household names and in some cases, instant celebrities. But there are also pitfalls and only those who can handle the pressure go on to make a name for themselves in the long run. By SWAROOP SWAMINATHAN W UNDERKIND. Wonder-child. That magical prefix that gets attached to any teenager showing remarkable ability in his/her chosen field. Mathematics, science, computers, music and so on. However, for one particular speciality that , phrase attains greater meaning. Sport. Last week, Indian cricket—an area which has seen its fair share of ‘next (insert name of any of the plethora of great Indian cricketers who have played for the country here)’—had a new entrant to this list. Prithvi Shaw. Sure, people had been bigging him up to be the ‘Next Sachin Tendulkar’ since he was 12 but October 4, 2018, was when the prophecy was put to its first big test. Needless to say the Mumbai, kar passed it with flying colours. The 18-yearold, during his debut 134 against the visiting West Indies at Rajkot, reminded viewers of a young Tendulkar. Grip, balance, understanding the 360-degree nature of a cricket field and the hedonistic display of batsmanship—seven of his first 17 scoring shots were boundaries—was a throwback to the Tendulkar era of the nineties when the curly-haired sensation routinely composed haiku with a bat in hand. One rival who played through the regal SRT years was Mark Waugh and he made the same comparison after an Indian Premier League match earlier this year. “Shaw’s grip, his stance, he stays very still at the crease and plays his shots around the wicket,” the Australian had said. “He plays the ball quite late and is quite punchy in his strokeplay and has an excellent base to play any shot from any bowler. He’s just so much like Sachin Tendulkar.” But—there is always a but in this context— nobody will be able to predict how many runs ORIGINAL ONE There is perhaps no other player who has defined the term wonderkid like Sachin Tendulkar has. He caught the imagination of an entire nation when he stepped out in Pakistan as a 16-year-old and faced fireballs from some of the best pacers. As he developed, it was clear that Tendulkar was no ordinary talent. For a country, still struggling to comprehend its place in the post-colonial world, it was an unfamiliarly pleasant sensation. or centuries Shaw will go on to make. He may not score any more centuries or could have already scored one more even before the ink on this paper printed becomes dry (the second Test at Hyderabad began on Friday). That’s the essential nature of a child prodigy, it’s very difficult to predict their future. In an Indian context, this becomes even more problematic because of the associated external factors— insensitive public, mindless hysteria and a competition for places so tight that it seems Darwinism is at play right across the food chain. It’s for this reason why examples of the light flickering all too briefly is littered through the annals of India’s epic cricketing history Of the . 13 players to have played in Tests before turning 19, only four (Tendulkar, Ravi Shastri, Harbhajan Singh and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar) have played over 50 Tests. At least two (Maninder Singh and Laxman Sivaramakrishnan) of the missing nine were considered as children of a supreme god when they were presented their Indian caps for the first time. But their potential, for one reason or other, failed on the biggest stage of them all. Singh, in fact, was hailed as the ‘next Bishan Singh Bedi’ but he is now more fondly remembered for something else. “Name the last Indian batsman to be dismissed by Australia in the tied Test at Madras?” When the 53-year-old is asked how he coped with the pressure of meeting (perhaps, unreal) expectations, he laughs. “I do know there was a sort of expectation from me, even though I was still only a boy he says. “I ,” still remember reading and/or listening to stuff like ‘after Bishan Singh Bedi, it’s going to be Maninder Singh. That I was expected to fulfil those expectations was sometimes a bit scary .” It’s fair to say he didn’t fulfil those lofty expectations. That he played his last Test before turning 28 speaks volumes. Looking back, the 53-year-old believes things happened way too fast for him. “It was all a blur for me. It was all happening tuk, tuk, tuk, you know. State debut as a 15-year-old. Some other debut as a 16-yearold. Even before I was an adult, I played for India. Maybe everything happened too soon.” While he his thrilled for Shaw, he has a word of caution for anyone who wants to make comparisons. “My only message is this: ‘please do not compare’. It does no good to anybody . Allow the kid to grow and be himself.” It’s also interesting to pick his brain on why he thinks he had a quick fall after a rapid ascent. “Overtrying,” he says. “Frustration and pressure start to creep up pretty soon if you don’t start well.” Shaw has never faced this problem because his progression from one level to the next has been so seamless that it’s almost like his script is being written by himself. People first started looking at him when he was just nine years old. Since then, he has scored a 546 in the Harris Shield (a prestigious meet for Mumbai school teams), scored a 100 in both Ranji and Duleep Trophy debuts apart from skippering India to victory in the Under-19 World Cup. The next step in the growing-up process is safeguarding himself from ‘burnout’. It is another aspect which may be the undoing of a gifted athlete. One of the most famous 21st century instances of this example is Missy Franklin, who was touted to become the prince of the swimming pool. As a 17-yearold, she roared to four gold medals at the London Olympics. Turn to page 2
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