Prithvi Shaw proves captaincy mettle by leading the Panthers to glory

The teenager showed maturity way beyond his years while leading his side in Season 2.

Charismatic opener, future world-beater and potential successor to an illustrious list of Mumbai based diminutive batsmen- these are perhaps the most obvious words of praise an ardent cricket fan would associate with 19-year-old Prithvi Shaw. However, the second season of the T20 Mumbai league unleashed a new facet of the teenager, that of an enigmatic captain.

There have been several instances in the history of the gentleman’s game who have taken up captaincy young, leading a side with several elder players. But in the case of Shaw and the North Mumbai Panthers, he was the youngest player in the roster when the armband was handed over to him in Season 2. Not letting the burden of captaincy trouble him, the 19-year-old rose to the occasion, showing some astute tactical awareness as well as bold decision making that helped the Panthers win the crown on the second time of asking.

With the bat in hand, Shaw was great as usual, scoring three fifties for his side and emerging as the leading run-scorer of the tournament. The Panthers won all three game in which their captain got a half-century, which include the semi-finals and the finals. Shaw also had a healthy strike rate of almost 150 and consistently gave his side explosive starts during the powerplay overs.

The youngster also showed great resilience and strength by continuing to lead his team despite suffering a foot injury in an earlier league game. He realized the importance of his role in the side and played through the pain to ensure the Panthers finished the tournament with a trophy.

However, it was with his captaincy that the 19-year-old showed his best in Season 2. As captain, he was astute with his field placements, choosing the best fielders to protect the boundary lines and the catching positions. In the game against NaMo Bandra Blasters, his team were a little sloppy on the field and dropped a few catches. Seeing this, Shaw decided to change his position from fielding within the 30-yard circle to positioning himself near the boundaries. The ploy worked almost instantly, as Aditya Dhumal who was looking well-set on 38 skied one and was caught in the deep by none other than Shaw himself.

Apart from that, Shaw was very clever with the way he rotated his bowlers at the Wankhede. On slightly sluggish tracks, he chose to use spin right from the beginning, bringing on the league’s most economical bowler Rahul Sawant right from the powerplay overs. He also recognized pacer Atif Attarwala as the marquee bowler and brought him into the attack every time the opposition were building a partnership.

The 19-year-old also showed a calm demeanour in pressure situations, with the final of Season 2 being the best example. Defending a modest 144, Shaw used his most economical bowlers Sawant and Attarwala at the death to ensure the chasing side needed 14 off the last over. Then, he showed great courage to rely of veteran Pravin Tambe despite him being expensive on the night. The move proved to be the match-winning decision, as Tambe conceded just one run while picking up two wickets to ensure the North Mumbai Panthers won the competition.

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