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What if Wednesday | What if Prithvi Shaw didn't get injured on the 2018/19 Australia tour

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Prithvi Shaw had a record breaking Vijay Hazare Trophy recently

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What if Wednesday | What if Prithvi Shaw didn't get injured on the 2018/19 Australia tour

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Harshit Anand

03/17/2021

Prithvi Shaw had traveled to Australia on the 2018/19 tour as the first-choice opener after his ballistic batting against West Indies that had established him as the next big thing in Indian cricket. However, he couldn't play the series due to an injury and after that things went awry for him. 

Life is all about being in the right situation at the right time. Who knows it better than Prithvi Shaw, who after making one of the most memorable debuts for India in 2018, missed out on the Aussie Tests when he was at his absolute best and from there onwards his international career has failed to pick up. Today, we will travel back in time and see what could have unfolded had Prithvi not injured himself in the warm-up game ahead of the Test series opener. 

So, Prithvi Shaw is in the form of his life and at the peak of his powers and it shows when he makes an effortless fifty in the first innings of the warm-up game followed by a hundred. It doesn't take long before Prithvi leaves the Aussie public in awe of his stroke play as he makes a fifty each in the first two Tests. However, he is guilty of throwing away his starts after being at ease with the pace and bounce on the Australian wickets sans movement. 

In the Boxing Day Test, he makes up for the first two Tests with a quickfire century, reminding people of Virender Sehwag's heroics here back in 2003/04 and is involved in a big 150-run-stand with KL Rahul where the Karnataka batsman makes a fifty as well. India win the Test and take a 2-1 lead in the series. Buoyed by his MCG ton and a flat SCG pitch, the Mumbaikar goes one notch better and blasts a 140-ball-210-run-knock to propel India to a big score of 650 fairly quickly. Australia, who are completely down and out by then surrender as India get them out cheaply not once but twice to seal a historic 3-1 series win. Prithvi Shaw is named the Player of the Series for his impact throughout the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Impressed with the match-winning caliber of Shaw, selectors pick him for the New Zealand ODIs. He plays in the last two ODIs at No.3 in place of Virat Kohli. The right-hander impresses as well with a century in the final ODI where he forms a big partnership with Ambati Rayudu to leave a great impression. He doesn't get to play in the Australia ODIs at home but has a decent IPL where he scores 353 runs with a strike-rate of 133.71. The youngster is drafted in the World Cup squad as a back-up opener given his dream run for India thus far. As luck would have it, Shikhar Dhawan gets injured and is ruled out after the Australia game. It results in Shaw opening the batting, with KL Rahul playing in the middle-order.

Shaw forms a great opening pair with Rohit Sharma and plays a like-for-like role of an aggressor like Shikhar. He shines in the big semi-final game against New Zealand with a quick 35-ball-fifty in the chase of 240 runs as India win the game by five wickets and reached the finale. However, in a high-scoring game against England at the Lord's, a deja-vu of the 2017 Champions Trophy finale happens as Indian top-order crumbles and England go on to win the ICC megaevent. Both Shaw and Rahul have a very good tournament though.

Going ahead, India decide to drop Kedar Jadhav from the side after his poor run in the World Cup and also because of the fact that the captain hardly trusts him with the ball like was the case in the recently-concluded megaevent. India draft in Shubman Gill to inject youth in the middle-order for the West Indies ODIs. Shaw has to make way after Shikhar returns to the side. Gill is slotted at the no.4 position with Rahul pushed down to 5 given his adaptability at different positions and a versatile game. Gill performs brilliantly in the series and the Indian cricket fans feel blessed at the sight of a master chaser Kohli with his apprentice Shubman batting well together.

KL Rahul, owing to his poor Test run is axed for West Indies Tests, and Shubman Gill is picked ahead of Mayank Agarwal after the latter failed to turn up in the 2018/19 Ranji trophy whereas Shubman averaged 104 and did brilliantly in the ODIs too. But Mayank continued acing the shorter formats and doing a great job as an opener for Karnataka. However, as a result of this, an upcoming star Devdutt Paddikal isn’t getting many chances or a log rope given the star-studded top-order of Karnataka. 

Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill, not too long ago, U-19 superstars get to open the batting in the Windies Tests. But they have an average series given the seam-friendly nature of the decks. But, they more than make up for it as the next generation stars pile up a mountain of runs at home against South Africa and Bangladesh respectively. Gill continues to awe everyone in the home Windies and Australia ODIs while Shaw has also established himself as the first-choice back-up opener in ODIs. 

A major change takes place in the T20I side as well with the call up for Suryakumar Yadav in New Zealand T20Is after the Mumbaikar averaged 56 with a strike-rate of 168.96 in the 2019/20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and had great IPL in 2018 and 2019 editions, where he scored 512 and 424 runs respectively. And he straight away delivers for India in the five-match series playing a pivotal role at the no.4, helping India to a win alongside KL Rahul. 

The opening pair of Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill is retained for the Australia Tests despite their share of struggles in the Windies and New Zealand Tests given they are the future of India and have already shown glimpses of their remarkable abilities. However, things don't go as planned for Prithvi Shaw as after a poor 2020 IPL, he injures himself in Australia and is ruled out of the Test series. 

Given that Virat Kohli will be returning back to India after the first Test, leaving the Indian batting fairly inexperienced, India decide to open in the Test series with Rohit Sharma after a meeting between Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri, Ajinkya Rahane and the national selectors given the enormity of the Test series, his familiarity with the conditions and success at the top of the order. 

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