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‘This boy will end up playing for India’ – What Tendulkar thought of a young Shaw

2:40 AM ET

  • ESPNcricinfo staff

When Sachin Tendulkar first saw Prithvi Shaw several years ago, he had predicted that the young man would go on to play for India.

On Thursday, Shaw became the youngest player to make a century on debut for India in Test cricket, making 134 against West Indies in Rajkot. Shaw, who like Tendulkar is a product of the Mumbai system, had sought a meeting with the master when his game was still developing, and he had impressed Tendulkar even then.

“Jagdish Chavan, a friend of mine, once asked me to take a look at Prithvi,” Tendulkar told the Times of India. “He said, ‘There’s this young kid who wants to meet you and it would be nice if you could have a look at him’. Prithvi wanted to discuss his game and he was very young at that time.

“So I had a look at him and, at first glance, I told him [Chavan], this boy will end up playing for India. I remember telling him ‘You’re looking at a future India cricketer… Mark my words, this guy will end up playing for India’. So that was my very first impression of Prithvi.”

Tendulkar said what impressed him was Shaw’s hand-eye coordination and “the way he picked up the line and the length. It was really exceptional. At that age, no one can generate power. That comes with age. But technically how many guys are so correct? I could see that he had that natural talent, a gift, and I felt not many guys have that.”

With a century in his first Test innings, Tendulkar felt Shaw had ticked a significant box. “I’m sure it must be extremely relieving that he’s been able to get a big score in his first outing. A big question mark always is, ‘A guy has done well at the domestic level, now will he be able to do the same at the international level?’ However talented the guy is, there is always a question mark. And a century kind of seals it. The figure is magical. Everyone starts thinking differently. As far as I am concerned, the first hurdle that he was going to encounter is out of the way now.”

Tendulkar also praised Shaw’s ability to learn and adapt to different situations. “Whatever I have seen of him, he’s been a fast learner. To me, being talented is one thing but what you do with that talent becomes more important. If you want to succeed at the international level you’ve got to be a fast learner. When somebody has to perform and sustain at this level, and play cricket at different grounds and conditions across the world for a long time to come, adaptability becomes the critical factor. To me, that is Prithvi’s biggest strength.”

In the years gone by, Tendulkar said he had also counselled Shaw against making technical changes to his batting, telling him that “if anyone asks you to change your batting grip, you should ask that person to come and speak with me”. Shaw had previously spoken about some of the technical issues in his game and said that Rahul Dravid, his India A and India Under-19 coach, had told him not to worry about it if he was scoring runs. Tendulkar had the same advice.

“He discussed it with me some time ago and all I asked him was, ‘Have you been feeling uncomfortable about it?’ His answer was ‘No’… ‘Then why change anything unnecessarily. When things are not broken, don’t break them so that you can mend them again. If you’re being able to adjust, then it’s fine. In time, there will be a lot changes taking place in your game with experience. And you’ve got to ride that tide’.

“Changes will happen as he goes on playing more cricket at this level. It is inevitable. But, until then, don’t keep finding faults.”

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