Stop the comparisons and let Prithvi Shaw be―Indian captain Virat Kohli on Thursday demanded “some space” for the teenage sensation, whose batting has drawn parallels with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag.
Hailed as a child prodigy, Shaw had a cracking Test debut against the West Indies team, hitting 134 off 154 balls in the first Test in Rajkot. The knock led to a media frenzy and a series of comments on how he is destined for greatness.
On the eve of the second Test here, the skipper, who tasted stardom quite early himself, took queries on the 18-year-old and called for some space.
“I don't think he should be rushed into anything yet because you need to give a youngster space to grow, in his own abilities. This guy is supremely talented and he has got great ability as everyone saw,” the skipper said at the pre-match press conference.
“We definitely think he (Shaw) has it in him to play at the highest level and he can repeat what he did in the first game. He is a very keen learner, a sharp guy. He understands situations well. We are all very happy for him,” he added.
Kohli echoed India opener Gautam Gambhir, who on Wednesday said that people should stop comparing him to the great Virender Sehwag.
“We shouldn't compare him to anyone yet. We shouldn't put him in a space where he feels pressure of any kind and he should be left in a space where he enjoys his cricket and slowly grows into a player we all believe in.”
Tournaments like the IPL, the A tours, live coverage of the U-19 tournaments put youngsters under instant spotlight and Kohli agreed that they are more equipped to handle pressure situations.
“Definitely it could be one of the reasons (early exposure) because they are already exposed to the environment that the international game would replicate. But there's always pressure of playing for the country.
“When you get that cap in the morning of the game, there's always butterflies in the stomach and I am sure everyone feels that pressure.
“But I am sure it is not as intense as 10-15 years back, when you didn't have any exposure in this kind of cricket and suddenly you are put out there in a Test match making your debut for India the highest or toughest thing there could be.”
IPL is one of the tournaments that had helped youngsters not get overawed by top flight cricket.
“So I agree with the fact that they have played in situations in the IPL where they play in front of so many people that they are not nervous anymore at the big stage.
“...I think they are not overawed by the scenario and I think that's always going to be an advantage because the guys coming in can start doing the job from game one which both these young guys have done that and Hanuma (Vihari) as well. They are supremely confident guys, those who are coming up (the ranks).”
The skipper scored his 24th hundred in Rajkot where he ran nearly 100 runs (99) in singles and doubles.
The master batsman believes that he has now reached a stage where he can bat for two days piling up runs in singles and doubles.
“You also have to realise that by the time the middle-order walked in at that game, the ball was soft. The pitch was not as quick, the harder ball comes onto the bat, so you have more boundary opportunities.
That said, the skipper is still ready to punish the loose balls.
“You can run your way to a hundred as well. There's no harm in that, I think with that mindset you understand your game you can bat all day, you can bat for two days and just score in singles and doubles.”
However this strategy comes with a rider according to Kohli clarity of mind.
“You don't necessarily need to hit a boundary and if you are convinced about that in your own head then the bowler gets to know as well and then the battle of patience starts.
“So I think you have to be convinced first that you can play all day with singles and doubles and not necessarily wanting to hit the big shots but given an opportunity, obviously you'll cash in on the loose balls.
“I think defence and understanding your off stump and being happy with that set up is the most basic in Test match batting,” the skipper added.