Forty-one-time winners Mumbai are a dominant force in the Ranji Trophy. However, the past few seasons have not brought them much joy. The last time they made it to the final was in 2016-17. Chandrakant Pandit was the head coach then and Prithvi Shaw had just made his debut. This time around, Shaw is leading Mumbai in the final against a Madhya Pradesh side coached by the man he calls Chandu sir.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Shaw said, “It’s an honour to lead Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. Five years ago when we reached the final, he [Pandit] was our coach and now playing against his team will be a challenge. I made my debut in that season and now I want to bring that trophy home.”
Before the showdown, Shaw got an opportunity to speak to his former coach and reflected upon it. “It was good to see him after a long time. He has done well with Madhya Pradesh and I would like to congratulate him and his team. We spoke only for a couple of minutes. I guess we both are trying to get into the zone before the final.”
There have been many contributors to Mumbai’s success this season. With 803 runs at an astonishing average of 133.83, Sarfaraz Khan is this season’s leading run-scorer. Shams Mulani is leading the wicket-taking charts. Yashasvi Jaiswal and Suved Parkar have come into their own in the knockout stages. Young and inexperienced (at this level), they might feel pressure before the final, but Shaw believes that his boys are ready for it.
“I am really proud of this team. The way they have worked hard in the league stage as well as before it [is commendable],” he said. “They just have to go there and enjoy. My message to all the young guys is to look at this like another U-19 or U-25 game and try to give your 100%. For me results don’t matter, the effort that you put in is important. They just have to keep doing what they have done in all these years.”
Even though the team has had a successful season, Shaw’s individual performances haven’t reached the standard he may have hoped to achieve. In five games, he has scored 264 runs at an average of 33. He is aware of it and accepts that cricket is full of ups and downs.
“I have scored a couple of fifties but that’s not enough for me, for sure,” he said. “No one even congratulates me after scoring a fifty so that made me feel bad as well (laughs). It happens sometimes but I am glad that my team is doing well.”
Shaw’s last Test match was in 2020 in Adelaide. Apart from winning the Ranji Trophy, is he thinking about making a comeback to the Test team?
“It is nowhere near my mind,” he said. “Right now winning the trophy is my main motive. I am not thinking about anything else. I am not focusing on anything going on outside.”