RAJKOT: Teenager Prithvi Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a century on Test debut as the hosts took opening day honours in the first match against the West Indies on Thursday.
Shaw, 18, also became India’s second-youngest century maker after Sachin Tendulkar as he blasted his way to a century in 99 deliveries in Rajkot.
India were 364 for four at stumps after electing to bat first. Skipper Virat Kohli, on 72, and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, on 17, were batting at close of play.
But the day belonged to Shaw, a diminutive right-handed opener and Indian Premier League star for the Delhi Daredevils, as he and Cheteshwar Pujara put on a 206-run second wicket partnership.
“I was a bit nervous to start off but when I got in, I got comfortable. I just tried to play my natural game. I was just thinking that it’s another game for me and then it just happened,” said Shaw.
“Playing for India, it was a big thing for me. I wanted to make this chance count. It was a good challenge for me and I think I did well,” he added.
He led India’s fightback after they lost opener Lokesh Rahul for nought in the very first over off Shannon Gabriel.
Shaw was finally caught and bowled by leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo for 134 in the last over before tea. His knock came in 154 balls with 19 boundaries.
The now-retired Tendulkar, India’s most successful batsman, was aged 17 when he scored 119 not out against England in 1990, but that was in his ninth Test match.
Shaw reached the landmark with two runs off paceman Keemo Paul, punching his fist in the air as the home crowd gave him a standing ovation.
– Early experience –
“From the smaller age I used to play a lot of school cricket, 30 or 35 school games in a year,” said Shaw, who had once scored a record 546 runs in school cricket.
“I have played a lot of cricket in Ranji and it just keeps going on with so much cricket around. All that experience has helped me,” added the Mumbai-born Shaw.
Shaw is the fourth-youngest international batsman to score a century on debut. He is also the third batsman after Shikhar Dhawan (85 balls) and Dwayne Smith (93) to hit his debut ton in under 100 balls.
Bangladesh batsman Mohammad Ashraful is the youngest debut Test centurion, followed by Zimbabwe’s Hamilton Masakadza and Pakistan’s Salim Malik.
Pujara also played an uncharacteristically quick knock as he brought up fifty off 67 deliveries, but missed out on his hundred after being caught behind off debutant paceman Sherman Lewis.
Kraigg Brathwaite, standing in as captain after Jason Holder suffered a last-minute ankle injury, juggled his bowlers but the absence of the experienced Kemar Roach and Holder was painfully evident.
Roach is back in Barbados to attend the funeral of his grandmother.
Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, who made 41, took over from Shaw with a patient 105-run partnership despite West Indies bowlers keeping a tidy line and length to check the flow of runs in the final session of play.
India raced to 232-3 at tea, managing another 132 runs in the evening session’s 38 overs with Kohli and Rahane batting cautiously.
Kohli, who is the world’s number one Test batsman, got to his half-century against Bishoo and was getting more dangerous with each passing ball.
Indian vice-captain Rahane though lost his cool against off-spinner Roston Chase to get caught behind in the final few overs of the day.