India vs Australia: ‘That’s when problems get created’, Sachin Tendulkar’s advice to under-fire Prithvi Shaw

From smashing a century on Test debut to getting his technique doubted and dropped from India’s Playing XI, young Prithvi Shaw has seen plenty of ups and downs in his short international career. The first Test against Australia in Adelaide seemed to be the tip of the iceberg. Shaw not only failed with the bat, registering a second-ball duck and 4 in the two innings, but the 20-year-old even put down a catch on the field.

He’s received backing from a few, while those clamouring for his axing were a lot more. Unfortunately, Shaw was dropped from the Playing XI for the Boxing Day Test which India announced on Friday, his place going to fellow youngster Shubman Gill. During one of Shaw’s lowest ebbs – the doping ban last year – it was revealed that the youngster had a word with the great Sachin Tendulkar about discipline and how to improve his game.

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Now, almost a year later, Tendulkar once again weighed in on Shaw and his performance in Adelaide. Identifying the problem in Shaw, the former India batsman reckons the India opener’s wide backlift is what is proving to be his undoing.

“With Prithvi, I feel it’s the backlift. I feel his hands are moving away from his body, and then coming in. So, it’s a scoop, rather than a pendulum or a cradle, which goes in a straight line. But what is happening because his hands are away and then he’s coming down… it’s coming down straight but if the ball zips through the surface, that is when problems get created,” Tendulkar said on his YouTube channel.

“It is not just to the balls coming in, but when a batsman is not playing well – I’m not talking only about Prithvi, it’s about any batter who’s not in good nick – and has that kind of a backlift, because when you’re scooping, you don’t get the timing right and you edge the ball either on the outer side or the inside. When you’re batting well, your timing is going to be right, but when you’re not, the straighter backlift helps.”

Tendulkar explained how apart from the backlift, the footwork also remains a cause of concern for Shaw. In the second innings of the Adelaide Test, Shaw’s front foot was in the air while he was in the middle of the shot, which unbalanced him and the ball flew between his bat and pad to rattle the stumps. But the real issue here lies in the mind of the batsmen, Tendulkar adds.

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“In the second innings, I felt he was caught on the move. There were a number of batters who were caught on the move. They were late in playing the ball – just a fraction. That can happen because there are so many things going on in your head. Here, again if you see, because there were a lot of things going on in his mind, he was a fraction late on getting on the ball because if you notice, his foot was in the air in the second innings,” the former India batsman explained.

“People talk about footwork, but it’s not about the bowler body. Footwork is in your mind, your head. So, if you’re not thinking properly, your lower body is not going to follow instructions. When there are multiple things going on in your head, it is going to affect your footwork. It’s in the mind.”

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