Prithvi Shaw's childhood coach Santosh Pingulkar has stated that the upcoming white-ball tour of Sri Lanka would be a blueprint for his ward's selection in the Indian team for the World T20. He also talked about the opener's chances of making a Test comeback after the display in Australia.
Having broken into the team in 2018, at the age of 18, Prithvi Shaw had a rapid rise in his career, with a marvellous Test century on debut against West Indies. However, since then, a combination of things has halted his career, with his last outing in Australia temporarily putting his Test dreams to a hiatus, having scored just four runs across two innings in India's loss in Adelaide. The turn of 2021 came at the right time for the right-hander, who has overturned his fortunes and was also named in India's white-ball squad for the six-match series against Sri Lanka.
Santosh Pingulkar, who has worked with Shaw since he was three, talked about his ward’s resilience in the domestic season and the IPL 2021 which earned him a berth in India’s limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka. While there were reports that suggested that Shaw could be sent to England, as a replacement for Gill, his childhood coach wants him to show his form in the Sri Lanka series.
“I want him to play for more Tests and make a bright career in the oldest format but the selectors have seen his game recently and have slated him for the ODIs and T20Is (against Sri Lanka),” Pingulkar told SportsCafe in an exclusive interview.
Shaw is yet to make India debut in T20I despite having played his fourth IPL season in trot and had made 308 runs before the tournament got postponed midway in 2021. Given the chance in Sri Lanka, Shaw will aim to contend for a slot in the ICC T20 World Cup scheduled to play in October in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
"If you see, in October, he has a golden chance to be selected for the ICC T20 World Cup,” Shaw’s childhood coach asserted on his ward’s World Cup selection chances.
On the other hand, in England, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Abhimanyu Easwaran have been with the Indian team for some time and all three of them could be paired with Rohit Sharma after Shubman Gill was ruled out of the upcoming five-match Tests against the Three Lions, that starts in August.
Despite the overload, reports suggested that the pair of Shaw and Devdutt Padikkal were considered as backup openers, considering the pandemic situation with the bio-bubble rules, which makes it extremely tough for players to be included later. However, Pingulkar believes the players who are already available should be selected ahead of Shaw at the moment.
“If you see in England they (India) have plenty of options like Abhimanyu Easwaran and KL Rahul, so they should be preferred ahead of Prithvi for now. If the BCCI wants to send him to England they can send him only after the completion of the Sri Lanka tour since the Tests will start on August 4 and it is a month-long tour,” Pingulkar commented on Shaw’s inclusion to the Test squad.
Over the last year, India has discovered its bench strength with many prodigious players like Washington Sundar, Mohammed Siraj and Suryakumar Yadav have made their way in the international arena. With Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who are on opposite tours on the wrong side of their 30s, it presents a good chance for young batters to showcase their talent and replace the seniors in future.
“Players like Prithvi, Shubman Gill, Abhimanyu Easwaran are promising and talented batters for India and BCCI should show confidence in them by giving them enough games to prepare them once Rohit and Shikhar retire,” Pingulkar reckoned on the future of India’s opening slot.
Even after breaking into international cricket, Shaw has managed to stay in touch with his childhood coach and just before leaving for Sri Lanka, had also made a visit to Pingulkar in Virar. Ahead of the Sri Lanka series, Pingulkar only had one demand from Shaw, which is to carry on the good form that he showed in the early part of the 2021 season.
“Just before leaving for Sri Lanka, he was here in Virar for around 12 days and he happened to give me a surprise visit. I told him to carry the good form he regained in Vijay Hazare Trophy and IPL 2021. He has been selected for ODIs and T20Is in the Sri Lanka tour, so I hope he gets his confidence and performs well,” Pilgunkar recalled the meeting.