Shaw’s 379 puts focus back on his cricket

Prithvi Shaw continued from where he had left on Tuesday to pulverise the Assam bowlers and in the process become the second-highest scorer in first-class cricket for India. On Wednesday, the 23-year-old opener finished with 379 runs off 383 balls as Mumbai declared their innings at 687 for four on Day Two of their Elite Group B Ranji Trophy match at the Amingaon Cricket Club. Shaw shared a 401-run third wicket stand with skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 191 from 302 balls. At stumps, Assam had reached 129 for one still trailing by 558 runs.

Bhausaheb Nimbalkar’s 443 for Maharashtra against Kathiawar in the first round of Ranji Trophy in December 1948 at Poona Club remains the highest first-class score by an Indian. Shaw’s quick-fire knock helped him overtake Sanjay Manjrekar as Mumbai’s top-scorer in the Ranji Trophy. Manjrekar had scored 377 in 473 balls in the semi-final against Hyderabad at the Wankhede Stadium in April 1991. He also became the ninth Mumbai player to score a triple ton in Ranji Trophy along with becoming the ninth batter to score 350-plus runs in an innings in Ranji.

“I am happy the way I have been playing this season but the big scores weren’t coming. But when you follow your process with 100 percent sincerity and with discipline, you will someday be rewarded for it. This knock is a result of my hard work over the last few years,” Shaw said.

He added that he did feel a bit disappointed when he didn’t reach the 400-mark. “I started from scratch. Didn’t think that I’m batting on 200. To reach 400 wasn’t in my mind but I was always thinking of playing as long as I can. The umpire’s decision wasn’t in my favour as well but it happens in the game,” said Shaw.

Those who have watched Shaw in the Mumbai maidans over the years feel that there is no better sight in cricket when he is in full flow at the top. One of them is Mumbai Cricket Association secretary Ajinkya Naik, who expects him to use this knock as a springboard.

“As an association, we have always backed Mumbai players, we have always believed in them whatever the situation. Everyone knows that Prithvi is a special player and he has proved that with a fabulous knock today. It’s not too far before he regains his spot at the highest level. He now has to just put his head down and build on this innings,” said Naik.

Resuming the day at 240 from 283, Shaw added another 139 runs to his tally in just 100 balls before he was trapped leg-before by Riyan Parag in the last over before lunch. He had brought up his maiden triple century in just 326 balls.

Before Wednesday’s knock, Shaw had only one fifty-plus knock in seven innings and his scores read 13, 6, 19, 4, 68, 35, 15. But in the fifth match of the Ranji season, he decided to not take any undue risk.

According to Shaw, it wasn’t an easy pitch to bat on so he decided to play along the ground. “I tried to play as much in the ‘V’ as possible. The ball was keeping low and because of it, I tried to play along the ground. The outfield was good as well so decided to push for single, double, an odd boundary in between and didn’t take many risks,” Shaw said about his approach. That he hit 49 boundaries shows how controlled his innings was. He hit just four sixes and most of them came toward the latter part of his innings.

This innings will hopefully put the focus back on cricket for Shaw. “People who don’t know me but still keep talking unwanted things about me. I don’t like to back answer so I have always ignored it. I know what I have to do to improve as a player,” said Shaw.