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T20 World Cup 2021

Prithvi Shaw needs to make his India case all over again

by Divy Tripathi 6 minute read

Prithvi Shaw has made everyone sit and take note of his batting ever since returning from the Australia tour. Still, he’ll need to make a case for his place in the side, especially in the T20I setup, writes Divy Tripathi.

While discussing his ideal T20 side to win across different conditions and wickets, journalist and analyst Jarrod Kimber explains the role of a Crusher, at the top of the order. Kimber’s ideal candidate for this job would not be scoring a 50 off 35 but a quick-fire 25. The examples he cites – Jason Roy, Alex Hales, and Evin Lewis – emphasise that the batter he has in mind would score these runs as fast as possible.

And the above three are good examples even today. Evin Lewis has a strike rate of 142.51, Hales has a strike rate of 150.11, and Roy strikes at 140.18 in the powerplay. This not only helps in getting their sides off to a flourishing start, putting the pressure on the opposition from the off, but also allows the middle-order batters with some space to breathe.

During the 2016 ICC Men’s World T20, India were guilty of not getting off to good starts in the tournament. The issue was exacerbated by slow batting on some occasions, such as Ajinkya Rahane’s 40 off 35 in the semi-final against the West Indies.

This failure to capitalize on the powerplay hurt India immensely. While India have improved on their powerplay performances of late, these improvements have often come after a couple of setbacks, as seen during the last T20I series against England.

KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, the batters who will form the Indian top-order during the T20 World Cup, though each possesses an exceptional record, are slow starters in the T20 game. Rahul’s strike rate during the Powerplay overs in T20Is is 135.35, while in the IPL it stands at 129.26. For Kohli, the numbers are 119.07 and 112.28 respectively. Rohit stands at 131.55 and 115.22.

The problem is in the fact that while all of them have the skill to counter tricky conditions and bat through the innings, India often misses out on explosive starts which are material to success in the T20 game.

Prithvi Shaw, not a part of India’s T20 World Cup squad, strikes the ball at 146.12 in the powerplay overs. His overall strike rate in the IPL is significantly better than Rahul, Rohit or Kohli. In short, he is best suited to be the crusher for the Indian team.

A glimpse of what could have been was witnessed during his 24-ball 43 which helped him secure the Player of the Match award against Sri Lanka a few months back.

Dropped after a torrid stretch during which he looked like he couldn’t buy a run, Shaw’s return has shown everyone that there was little wrong with his technical game. He stated during the IPL that he made a small change after returning from Australia, which helped him get in the right position before the ball was delivered. He hit 827 runs at a strike-rate of 138.29 in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

In the present edition of the IPL, he has hit 308 runs at a strike rate of 165.28. His explosive starts have ensured that Delhi Capitals have batted at more than 10 runs per over during the powerplay overs on four occasions this season. Shikhar Dhawan, another player whose value lies in playing big knocks for his team, has batted at a strike rate of 116.41 during the powerplay overs, while Shaw has managed a monstrous rate of 184.25 in the same overs.

Taking a wider view, and Shaw’s ability should need little proving. He made a quintuple century as a schoolboy, averages in excess of 50 in both first-class and List A cricket, with double centuries in each, and made a century on Test debut, with a half-century in his second knock for good measure. He bats with a panache and swagger of a player utterly confident in how good he is, and why shouldn’t he? All signs point towards Shaw being very, very special, something he has shown on multiple occasions across multiple formats.

Even with all of this Shaw failed to secure a selection for the T20 World Cup. And he can’t really do much about it. Indian selectors often pick players based on performances across formats. For instance, Rishabh Pant was rewarded for his Test performances earlier this year with a place in the T20I squad, and Suryakumar’s limited overs form got him into the Test squad. To add to this, India are never short of options at the top, and they have decided to put their faith in the old heads.

All of this reflects that Shaw can only wait for the next opportunity he gets. And to secure that opportunity he needs to continue churning big runs at an exceptional strike rate.

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