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Sethi’s Satire: Prithvi & Mayank Get Talking in Race to be India’s Second Opener

Prithvi Shaw.

Prithvi Shaw.

Which brings us to Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw. Shaw was part of the squad in England, which, if you go by the Karun Nair selection logic means that he may not play in either of the upcoming Tests. Agarwal is 27, Shaw is 18. Both have robust numbers.

From being the third-choice opener at the start of the England series, KL Rahul is now the only certainty on top of the order. Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan find themselves together again, both discarded from the Test squad. What took Vijay just two Tests, Dhawan accomplished in four.

Which brings us to Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw. Shaw was part of the squad in England, which, if you go by the Karun Nair selection logic means that he may not play in either of the upcoming Tests. Agarwal is 27, Shaw is 18. Both have robust numbers.

Before Agarwal was picked, it appeared Shaw’s name had already been inked in the team-sheet. Not so simple anymore.

In the West Indies’ tour match at Vadodara, the two opened the innings. Agarwal made 90, Shaw 8. A two-day game rarely gives batsmen second chances. Going by the team management fixation with ‘current form’, Agarwal would walk in with his latest mark-sheet. Going by the team management’s inclination towards young guns (take Rishabh Pant for instance), Shaw could walk in. And going by the team management inclination towards muddled thinking, both could walk in, with KL Rahul at three, and Pujara on the bench.


It’s happened before. This is a home series. There’s a ticket to Australia up for grabs. And India is already thinking ahead at chasing down 500 in the fourth innings in Adelaide.

This of course means little to Shaw or Agarwal. Both aware that they will soon be sharing the Indian dressing room. Yet, in all possibility, only one will become the 293rd Indian Test cricketer.

Agarwal and Shaw found themselves together in the Board President’s XI dressing room after the second and last day’s play. With them was India’s 292nd Test player, Hanuma Vihari.

There was a shyness between the two openers, one that led to an awkward silence. It took Vihari to break it.

Hanuma Vihari (HV): Have you spoken to Dravid sir….y’knoI called Dravid sir the day before I made my debut and told him I was making my debut.

He spoke to me for a couple of minutes and gave his inputs and I thought it eased my nerves a little bit, because it is coming from a legend and you know that you belong here. He just told me that you have the skillset, you have the mindset and the temperament, just go out there and enjoy yourself. I would like to give him a lot of credit for that because my journey with India A was very important for me to come here, because not only that I performed there, but the way he gave us inputs, that made me a better player

Both Shaw and Agarwal look at Vihari dazed.

Prithvi Shaw (PS): Bro…you just made a speech…nice one…

HV: No problem…it’s what I told the press too. Not seen my name in print like this before so I read it a few times. It was fun. Now I know it by heart.

Mayank Agarwal (MA): They’ll tell us the day before…

HV: Yes…y’kno, jokes apart, how this team goes by current form, maybe both of you will play and I will be dropped

PS: Bro…don’t say that…you’re always 292…and we’re openers…

MA: You’re middle order da…

HV: You made 90, Prithvi made 8 and I made only 3…so current form…

Vihari walks out, leaving the two together.

PS: Bro…you think we’ll open together…that’s crazy…Rahul will definitely open

MA: Rahul will definitely open da…

PS: Should we both call up Dravid sir…how to chill bro…before they announce the team…

MA: Dunno da…we have to use it like phone-a-friend, why don’t you just call Rishabh…he’s No. 291…he made his Test debut last month only da…call Rishabh…he’ll talk to you like a bro da

Before Agarwal can finish, Shaw is on the phone with Rishabh Pant

PS: Rish Bro…how’re you bro…big question bro…how was it before your Test debut…I’m asking for Mayank…he’s nervous as sh…

Agarwal snatches the phone…

MA: Rish…Prithvi just talking rubbish da…he wants to ask for himself…passing the buck…he’s going to make his Test debut…

Rishabh Pant (RA): M’ynk …put it on speaker yaar…I gotta message for both of you…both of you are like my brothers and I love you both…and y’kno 4th October is my birthday and I will be very happy if we are all playing together but if say, only two of us are…I don’t want the third to have bad feelings…it’s ok…dressing room is good…maybe third guy will come on as substitute fielder and we’ll all be on the field together in a Test match for India…bros I’m getting very emotional too…

PS: All that is ok, how do we handle the build-up to the Test cap, bro

RA: What build up?

MA: Anxiety da…stress, tension…should we call up Dravid sir?

RA: Why? I’m telling you don’t take stress. You’ll either be 293 or 294 or 295…it’s coming guys…I know it…and in the evening, treat for my birthday…

MA: What treat? You know we’ll be eating in the team hotel and management picks the bill, da

RA: It’s nice to say bro…don’t spoil my birthday

PS: Bro…thanks…talk soon bro

Shaw shrugs as he looks at Agarwal…the two decide to call Test Cap No. 290, Jasprit Bumrah

PS: Hi Jas bro…how’re you? gotta minute…

JB (overstepping): Hi..Hi…Prithvi…thanks in advance

PS: Oh right, bro…congrats…great win…bro…can I ask you a question…how did you handle it bro…before your Test debut

JB: It was ok…I had already made by ODI debut 2 years before…so it was good…ok…why are you asking? Oh right, for yourself? But what if Mayank A…

MA: Hi Jaspreet…Mayank here, congrats, great win da…loved it…we’re here together…just wondering…what prep…

JB: No…no prep…enjoy the moment…

As there are no answers from Bumrah either, the two decide on one final call. No 289. Hardik Pandya. They make a video call.

Hardik Pandya (HP) (in a bathtub): Hi guys…wasup? Just taking it easy…back is screwed…ready for Test debut and all…good luck…don’t take any stress…if you’re nervous…enjoy the nerves man…it’s a once in a life-time opp…I’m telling you…nothing like it…will miss not being with you…but we can do a video call that day in the evening…would love to speak to both of you…no hard feelings…oh what did you call for? Seeing me in a bath tub…you dirty boys…

Feeling better after speaking with Pandya, they decide to call No 288, Kuldeep Yadav

It was either the phone line or Kuldeep’s thickly accented American-Australian English fusion, that they understood very little of what he said. They quickly congratulate him and get off the phone.

Enjoying this sport way too much, they decide to call No 287, Karun Nair.

Karun Nair (taped message) Hi…this is Karun Nair…if you’re calling to ask how I felt being in the squad for England…and not playing a game…press 1…if you want to know how it feels being left out of the squad for the West Indies’ series press 2…if you..

They hang up. And look at each other blankly. They then hug each other. Suddenly aware of certain realities.

(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction)

(Gaurav Sethi branded Bored Cricket Crazy Indians (BCC!) to bring bloggers together. He also branded Che Pujara, Jatman and Thank You Sachin! – as a cartoon, before it became a farewell cry. He used to work on brands. Now he works on himself. He tweets at @BoredCricket)

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