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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Prithvi Shaw unwilling to bat at nets during lean patch: Ricky Ponting

Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting has turned up the heat on opener Prithvi Shaw, questioning his unwillingness to work hard at the nets while going through a lean patch.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: April 6, 2021 2:47:20 pm
Prithvi Shaw simply refused to pad up for nets when after scoring two fifties last season, he was hit by a slump.(File)

Ahead of the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season, Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting has turned up the heat on opener Prithvi Shaw, questioning his unwillingness to work hard at the nets while going through a lean patch. In fact, Shaw’s training approach during last year’s IPL made Ponting perplexed, as the youngster refused to bat at the nets despite not scoring runs. The IPL commences on April 9 and Delhi Capitals will play their first match the next day, against Chennai Super Kings.

“I’ve tried (taking Shaw under his wing) the last two years and I’ve really enjoyed working with him,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.

He added: “I’ve had some really interesting chats with him through last year’s IPL, just trying to break him down, trying to find out exactly what was the right way to coach him and how I was going to get the best out of him.”

The interview was conducted before Ponting left for India for this year’s tournament and the Australian legend spoke about the difficulty in figuring out the young opener’s approach.

READ | The bat-pad gap: Decoding Prithvi Shaw’s flaw

“But he had an interesting theory on his batting last year – when he’s not scoring runs, he won’t bat, and when he is scoring runs, he wants to keep batting all the time.

“He had four or five games where he made under 10 and I’m telling him, ‘We have to go to the nets and work out (what’s wrong)’, and he looked me in the eye and said, ‘No, I’m not batting today’.

“I couldn’t really work that out.”

Shaw had an ordinary IPL last year with only two half-centuries in 13 games and an average of 17.53. He eventually lost his place in the Delhi Capitals team. Then, in the Test series in Australia, the 21-year-old fared miserably in the only Test he played – four runs in two innings – before being dropped, first from the playing XI followed by the Test squad for the home series against England.

In form at home

Back in domestic cricket, Shaw, however, was a resounding success in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, scoring four centuries for Mumbai including an unbeaten double hundred – 227 not out off 152 balls – against Puducherry.

And Ponting is impressed. Technical flaws notwithstanding, the former Australia captain is wowed by Shaw’s talent and is ready to walk the extra mile to help the youngster improve.

“He (Shaw) might have changed. I know he’s done a lot of work over the last few months, that theory that he had might have changed, and hopefully it has, because if we can get the best out of him, he could be a superstar player,” the former Australia captain said.

Technical trouble

During the day-night Adelaide Test, Ponting had pre-empted Shaw’s dismissals. “He has got a little chink in his armour. I think it’s the ball that does come back into him. Very comfortable playing the ball away from his body. He does get his head in the line of the ball and plays it under his eyes, but he doesn’t commit his front foot to the line of the ball a lot. Quite often leaves a big gap between bat and pad and that’s where the Aussies will target,” Ponting had said on 7Cricket before Mitchell Starc ran in and cleaned up Shaw through the gate.

Batting maestro Sunil Gavaskar, too, criticised Shaw’s technique after his twin failures in Adelaide. Shubman Gill was brought in to open the innings as Shaw’s replacement and made a serious impression. From Delhi Capitals’ point of view, however, Shaw is going to be a crucial player this season, given that the team’s regular captain Shreyas Iyer is ruled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury.

“I was going pretty hard at him,” Ponting said. “I was basically telling him, ‘Mate, you’ve got to get in the nets. Whatever you think you’re working on, is not working for you’.”

“It’s my job as a coach to challenge someone’s preparation if they’re not getting results. So, I challenged him and he stuck to his word and he didn’t practise much at all towards the back-end of the tournament, and didn’t get many runs towards the back-end of the tournament either.”

In a recent interview with this paper, Shaw spoke about how he broke down in his room after being dropped from the Test series Down Under. Also, the realisation that he needed to work harder held him in good stead in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. “I said to myself ‘I need to pull up my socks’. There is a saying, ‘hard work beats talent’. I told myself all this talent is fine but it’s of no use if I don’t work hard,” Shaw had said.

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