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Prithvi Shaw returns to the national fold and it feels right

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Last updated on 14 Jan 2023 | 07:46 AM
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Prithvi Shaw returns to the national fold and it feels right

The batter finds a place in the Indian squad for the T20Is against New Zealand

As always, the BCCI continues to throw curveballs when it comes to selections. While the main talking points are perhaps Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan’s inclusion in the Test squad against Australia or KS Bharat finding a place in the ODIs against New Zealand, or even Mukesh Kumar constantly finding a place in the T20I squad. Also, Sarfaraz Khan missing out despite scoring runs for fun in the Ranji Trophy is once again something that has been difficult to comprehend. 

The puzzling part is that they have been picked in a format based on their form or good showing in another, which does not seem to be the right way to go. The same can be said even for Prithvi Shaw, who is currently tearing it apart in the Ranji Trophy and has earned a call-up to the T20I side.

However, this selection does make a lot of sense. 

His 379 against Assam should have sealed the deal for his return to the national side. However, while one thought he could be an excellent candidate for a spot in the Test series, the selectors do not see it that way. Shaw is a good pick in T20Is as well. In T20s since 2020, among Indian openers who have scored at least 300 T20 runs, Shaw’s strike rate of 153.5 is the highest. 

He hits a boundary every 4.1 deliveries, which is once again the best among the aforementioned timeline.

India addressed their mundane middle-overs approach by inducting Suryakumar, and that move has paid off. While India have not had major issues with the rate at which their openers have scored, especially in the last two years (Since 2021), having scored at 8.3 (SR 137.6), an over–only bettered by England (RR 8.6) among full-members, adding Shaw to the fold just further boosts them.

However, with the ODI World Cup to be played in India later this year, perhaps his performances in the T20Is against New Zealand could get him a look in for the 50-over format as well, given India play plenty of them before the October-November event. 

In the 50-over games since 2020, Shaw has been at his brutal best, having scored 1,217 runs at 65.92 to go with a strike-rate of 130, and across two Ranji Trophy seasons, he has scored close to 900 runs in 11 matches. He ticks all the boxes to stake claim to a place across formats, and the T20I inclusion could just be the start of a breakthrough year for Shaw.

Following the axe from the Test squad, after his technique was exposed in the Adelaide Test in 2020, Shaw worked closely with Pravin Amre, and also called upon his childhood coach Prashant Shetty to seek advice. There were many questions about his backlift, but Prashant in a chat with Cricket.com in April 2021, revealed that he felt Shaw’s initial movement was the issue and worked on the same.

“He ensured that his initial movements were a little early, which was a little late earlier. That was also because of bad form. When you’re going through the bad form, your reaction is also a tad late. He concentrated on that more - in order to get into position early, and if you observe, he has implemented that quite well now. The backlift was not much of an issue, but there is still work to be done. It was more to do with his initial movement,” Prashant said.

What followed was a brilliant domestic season that saw Shaw rack up 827 runs at 165.40, along with a strike-rate of 138.29 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He did not just get hundreds that season but got Daddy hundreds that included scores of 165 off 122, 185* off 123, and more.

With an improved technique and tons of runs behind him, Shaw will hope to capitalise on whatever opportunities come his way in India’s blues (for now). Of course, a red-ball return too, cannot be completely ruled out in the near future.

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