Hey, Prithvi Shaw, You’re Making Even Sharmaji Ka Ladka Look Bad!


Hey, Prithvi Shaw, You’re Making Even Sharmaji Ka Ladka Look Bad!

Illustration: Akshita Monga

Prithvi Shaw is 18 years and 329 days old – although at 5’5’’, he looks even younger. He’s a tiny presence on the field with a scrawny moustache that is still developing. He has already made his Test cricket debut for India and scored his maiden century in his first game, making him the youngest Indian to achieve the feat.

Until this morning, I thought I was young at 26 years of age, but you can hardly blame me when in our nation, a 48-year-old politician is dubbed a yuva neta. Shaw, of course, gave me a reality check. As I watched him plunder the West Indies bowling attack like it was his daily glass of Bournvita, I felt like a relic. For once I can say, I’ve seen the guy grow.   

It feels like it was only yesterday when we started hearing about Shaw’s heroics in school cricket. When I’d see his pictures in the papers I knew he would make it to the Indian side someday. By someday, I meant when I would be an old man. Not in my mid-20s.   

At the age of 18, I thought I was cool because I knew the lyrics to Sean Paul’s Temperature. At 18, Shaw is rewriting history. At 14, I was in school arguing whether Mewtwo or Charizard was the stronger Pokemon. Shaw, at 14, scored 546 off 330 balls in a Harris Shield game.

It was back then that the murmurs began: We have a Sachin in the making. Yet another wunderkid from Mumbai.

Prithvi Shaw is barely 19 and there’s already a sense of inevitable greatness around him.

Prithvi Shaw got a century on his Ranji Trophy debut, Duleep Trophy debut, and Test debut. Leave alone a 100, during my teenage years, the only predictable pattern in my life were the dismal scores in economics and foundation course. Then came the big one – Shaw was announced the captain of the India U-19 team. He led a team that went on to win the World Cup in New Zealand. My greatest under-19 achievement has been making it to Diamond tier on PUBG.

And while I was wracking my brain over the IPL fantasy team, Shaw was picked by the Delhi Daredevils at six times his base price. Of course, he was the youngest opener in IPL history at 18 years and 165 days. “Kuch seekh le beta, 18 saal mein woh TV pe hai, aur tu abhi bhi video game khel raha hai,” dad taunted me then.

Today, I just about made it to work and by 11 am, Shaw had scored his half century. He was unbeaten on 75 by lunch and scored his maiden 100 within four hours of donning the India cap. An Ashutosh Gowariker movie lasts longer than the time it took for young Shaw to stamp his mark on the world stage. He seems more at ease playing cricket at the highest level than most people his age seem finalising their display picture.  

But in all of this, the thing that is blowing my mind is, how can someone born in ’99 play international cricket already? It makes you realise that young is 18. Not 26. You know you’ve officially become old when all the top athletes in the world are a couple of years younger than you.

Prithvi Shaw is barely 19 and there’s already a sense of inevitable greatness around him. When he scored runs in school, you knew he would play domestic cricket soon. When he scored hundreds in the domestic circuit, you knew he was going to play for India. When he finally played for India, a century did not come as a surprise. The script has already been written for Prithvi Shaw. Much like a man before him, he’s made a start, with an MRF bat and that backfoot punch.

Now I wonder when he’ll break all the other records. Hopefully, he’ll wait for me to age a little more.