Virar (Maharashtra): As he became toast of the nation for leading India to a dominating U-19 World Cup triumph, Prithvi Shaw's first coach Santosh Pingulkar has recalled days when he had spotted talent in the captain when he was just a three-year-old.
The youngster's cricketing journey started in a modest town of Virar near Mumbai but avenues kept opening for him as he grew as a cricketer.
"Prithvi Shaw came to me when he was around three years old. It was a co-incidence when I first spotted him playing on a municipal corporation ground first. I had come to Virar from Aurangabad to take permission for the local ground when I saw him play there," Pingulkar told reporters.
"No one was taking him in Mumbai, saying he was very young. We enrolled him in our Golden Star Academy. He was our first student," he added.
Shaw studied at the National School here, but later shifted to Rizvi school in Mumbai, where he got ample opportunities to prove himself and showcase his talent.
"He was at the National School till 2nd-3rd standard and then was shifted to Rizvi school (in Mumbai), but he stayed in Virar till he was 12 years, recalled Pingulkar, who still coaches students here.
Pingulkar remembered that he first saw Shaw playing a few drives and felt that something was special about the toddler.
"He was just playing some drives when I spotted him first. When I saw him at three, I felt that there is something and so I spoke to his father (Pankaj Shaw). He joined our academy in September 2002 and started coming regularly to me,” Pingulkar said. Shaw was brought up by single-handedly his father as he lost his mother when he was just a toddler.
"He started playing for his school and coming for practice. After he shifted to Rizvi, he used to come for practice in the evening. Later it became difficult for him to commute in the (suburban) train. Local MLA Sanjay Potnis arranged a flat for him there (in Mumbai) and looked after him..," he added.
According to the coach, when Shaw was around seven years old, Pingulkar felt that Shaw had the potential to become a big player.
"When he was 8-9 years old he played the CPCC tournament organized by Chandrakant Pandit's academy. At nine we sent him for selection for MCA U-14, he got selected for second round, but in the third round was stopped as he was young."
"We then got him enrolled to Rizvi. Where he got many opportunities got selected for Mumbai U14 when he was 10 years old..," the coach recalled fondly minutes before his pupil grabbed the U19 World Cup trophy.
Pingulkar remembers that Shaw was very patient and he batted last in the nets so he could get to play for more time than the others.
In 2006, Shaw experienced playing on turf-wicket for the first time. He shinned in several local tournaments it was then that coach Pingulkar decided his pupil needed to move to Mumbai.
"Then we shifted to another ground in Yashwant Nagar in 2006, he got an experience to play in turf wickets and then starred in local tournaments and we though he needed a bigger platform and hence took the decision to shift him to Mumbai, he said.
After moving to Mumbai, Shaw, played for MIG, soon he was selected for the U-19 team and the rest is history.
"It is sure that he will play for India. It is his luck, that he got a coach like Rahul Dravid, who gave him an opportunity," Pingulkar added.
Breaking records all the way
The captain of the Indian senior team, Virat Kohli, is often regarded as the player who is likely to break the records set by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.
But young Shaw has to his credit of beating Tendulkar's record of becoming the youngest playing member of the Cricket Club of India (CCI). While Tendulkar made history by playing for the CCI at 15, Shaw made it to the prestigious club, when he was all of 14.
Shaw again went one step ahead of Tendulkar when he became the youngest to score a century on his Duleep Trophy debut in 2017. Shaw also marked his Ranji Trophy debut with a match-winning century against Tamil Nadu in the second innings.
Tendulkar too had earlier shone into prominence, when he scored centuries on his debut matches in Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Irani Cup.