Prithvi Shaw may have scored a century on his test debut, but his performance should not lead cricket fans to believe that he is the solution to India’s ongoing opening woes.
Shaw, 18, lit up the opening day of the first test match against the West Indies in Rajkot with an array of strokes in his knock of 134 runs off 154 balls, and made Indian selectors believe they made the right call to bring him into the squad at the expense of a more experienced opener in Shikhar Dhawan.
Two factors were in Shaw’s favour - West Indies’ poor bowling line-up and a batting flat-bed - and he made the most of it.
It wasn’t enough to hide his technical deficiencies. Shaw does not bother to move his feet to the pitch of the ball, and relies on his hands to make contact. As a result, Shaw almost reaches out to deliveries he should not be playing, and often hits the ball in the air.
Shaw also looked awkward while playing short-pitched deliveries from Shannon Gabriel, the fastest of the Windies’ bowlers, taking his eyes off the ball and ducking blindly. He also tries to stay beside the line of the ball rather than behind it, which makes him susceptible to the in-swinging ball.
Shaw’s batting was aggressive, but it also showed moments where he could have exercised restraint rather than going for ambitious strokes and risking his wicket. He finds it hard to let a delivery go when it’s a foot or so far from the stumps. An opener must be able to leave balls judiciously.
Shaw’s deficiencies must not be ignored before he is earmarked for the opener’s slot on India’s tour to Australia this year. With K.L. Rahul, India’s other opener, struggling with his own technical limitations, India would gain little by persisting with Shaw as his partner.
Let’s not forget that the pitches in Australia will not be so kind and their attack not as toothless as that of the West Indies’.
It’s time the Indian selectors focus on technique in their hunt for a solid test opener, but for that to happen they must stop celebrating and look away from Shaw’s stunning debut.
Editing by Robert MacMillan; The views expressed in this article are not those of Reuters News. This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced without permission.