Prithvi Shaw has been a part of India’s roster ever since the fourth Test in England at the end of August, and although he felt he was “ready to play” even then, the opportunity didn’t quite come. It took until the home series against West Indies for him to make the step up to international cricket and he made it count, scoring 134 runs off only 154 balls.
“It’s up to the coach and Virat [Kohli] bhai to decide on when to play me. But I was ready for the England series as well,” Shaw said, at the end of the day’s play. “So I would have tried my best to perform well. Here I got an opportunity and I am happy about it.”
There were “nerves at the start”, but after spending “10-15 overs” in the middle, he felt set and from there on it was about following both the team’s advice and that of the man he dedicated his innings to, his father.
“My dad doesn’t know that much about cricket, but he has watched so many years of it,” Shaw said. “He was like just go there and play how you play in your first-class games, just go and enjoy your debut. No pressure at all.”
Shaw has had a terrific 2018 so far. It began with him going to New Zealand as captain of India’s Under-19 team and winning the World Cup. An IPL debut followed and now, after becoming the youngest India player to make a century on Test debut, he has staked a claim to be one of the team’s first-choice openers.
“It’s been a really good year, but I’m not thinking of it like that. I’m just taking it match by match. It wasn’t a case of me thinking about international cricket after winning the World Cup. Whatever games came my way, I tried to give my best, do whatever I could to win matches for the team, be it at the Ranji Trophy level, India A, IPL, this was always on my mind.
“I want to dedicate this hundred to my dad, he has made a lot of sacrifices for me, he is still doing it. He has been very helpful throughout my journey. He has always been there, whenever I have been nervous or have gotten out early. I can’t list it out all but he has done a lot.”
Throughout the innings, Shaw showed great composure, and he put that down to how his team-mates have made him feel at home in a new environment. “It was nice sharing the dressing room with so many seniors who have already played 5-10 years of international cricket. They got the experience, they used to share with me. Because of all these things everyone is like my friend in the team. We enjoy off the field, on the field we are together, [it] feels great.
“They made me very comfortable, it was not like a senior-junior [thing]. Ravi [Shastri] sir and Virat bhai always told, ‘there is no senior or junior in the team. If you are playing for India, you are among us.’ That made me really confident and a bit out of pressure.”
It took him a while to feel like that out on the field on Thursday, but once he felt he had the measure of the West Indies bowlers, there was only one thing he wanted to do.
“Obviously I was nervous, this was my Test debut. But after ten overs, I was hitting the ball well and I was getting the boundaries. I got the confidence and I didn’t feel the pressure. I wanted to dominate them as much as I could. I like dominating the bowlers and I was trying that. I was waiting for the loose balls and they bowled many boundary balls. So I was trying to balance it out between playing the ball on its merit and attacking the loose balls.”