BENGALURU: The Vijay Hazare Trophy has been played under the watchful eyes of the national selectors. One of the five was present in every centre where group league matches were played. For the knockout rounds, chief selector MSK Prasad is in Bengaluru, with a few of his colleagues.
While it has to be guessed who are the players to have impressed the five wise men, it can safely be said that Prithvi Shaw has to be one who has forced his way into their notebooks. The 18-year-old has amassed 348 runs in just four matches, at a strike rate of 142. His seemingly effortless hitting is making bowlers sweat. Having made all the right noises, the opener is making a strong case for his inclusion in the ODI squad.
With the World Cup just over six months away and the selectors settling down on the tried and tested pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan with KL Rahul as back-up, Shaw’s uninhibited stroke play and range of shots might throw the race wide open once again. When someone goes at the rate he is, it becomes difficult to ignore him.
“If Shaw continues to score like the way he has been in the one-day version, I am sure he will be pushing for his inclusion in the ODI and World Cup squad. It will be a welcome headache (for selectors). You always want to have a problem of plenty,” cricketer-turned-commentator Rohan Gavaskar told Express after witnessing Shaw’s 44-ball 61 against Hyderabad in the Vijay Hazare Trophy semifinal at Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday.
The diminutive batsman was not at his most fluent. Troubled often by a right shoulder problem which needed frequent attention, he also saw Ravi Kiran drop two easy catches at deep fine-leg off Mohammed Siraj in the same over. It was a trap and unable to curb his instinct to hook, Shaw played into it. He was in the 30s then. Other than timing, this is also something that the selectors noticed.
But then, Shaw is not just about chinks in the armour. Apart from strokes all around the wicket against pace and spin, what has also caught the eye is his composure and ability to improvise. After realising that hooking Siraj is not a great idea when the line is not leg or outside leg, he played an upper cut over slips for six when the bowler pitched short again. And as if to prove that he was not ready to compromise, he hooked the next ball into the stands over deep fine-leg. “Instead of looking at flaws, look at the number of runs he has been scoring in every game. Even if he has flaws or does not have any flaws, all you have to do is score runs and he is doing that. The basic point of batting is to score and as far as he is concerned, there is no problem with that. If you are scoring at every level of cricket that you are playing, I don’t think you have to worry about anything,” added Gavaskar.
By adding Rishabh Pant to the ODI squad, Prasad & Co have shown they are rewarding potential as well as form. With Shaw not picked for the first two ODIs against the West Indies, it will be interesting to see if selectors name him in the squad for the remaining three ODIs. The first ODI is on October 21.