Seventeen-year-old Prithvi Shaw showed maturity beyond his years, anchoring a fabulous fourth innings chase with a debut hundred, as Mumbai beat Tamil Nadu by six wickets to enter the Ranji Trophy final for the 46th time.
Mumbai will meet Gujarat in the final scheduled to be played at Indore from January 10-14.
Straightaway drafted from the India U-19 team, young Shaw scored 120 as Mumbai chased down 251 in only 62.1 overs. At 17 years and 57 days, Prithvi is the second youngest from Mumbai, after Sachin Tendulkar, to hit a Ranji century on debut.
His temperament was top notch as he faced 175 balls, hitting 13 boundaries, and a six off Baba Aparajith over long-on.
When he was finally dismissed, the 41-time champions needed only 10 runs to win the semi-final against Abhinav Mukund’s team.
Fittingly, Prithvi was adjudged ‘Man of the Match’.
“I am thankful to my coach (Chandrakant Pandit) and senior players for guiding me. Coach said that I should watch how seniors like Aditya Tare, Abhishek Nayar prepare for matches and I tried doing that,” said the baby-faced Prithvi, who once held the world record in school cricket, scoring 546.
In fact, Prithvi’s seniors like Praful Waghela (36), Shreyas Iyer (40) and Suryakumar Yadav (34) all rallied around him, as the title favourites reached the target with minimum fuss.
He added 90 runs for the opening stand with Waghela followed by 91 with Iyer and 57 with Suryakumar.
Strong on the off-side, Prithvi started with a backfoot cover drive off Aswin Crist.
After being cautious for 35 balls, Prithvi opened up in the 11th over with a couple of cover driven boundaries off Crist.
When left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivas came into the attack, he was swept from outside the off-stump for two boundaries.
When Mukund brought on Aparajith, the schoolboy jumped out to hit him for a six over long-on.
A mistimed pull-shot off Vijay Shankar brought him the half century.
There was whip past the mid-wicket, glance and steers, which showed the range as well as his ability to choose hittable deliveries.
A sweep off Srinivas took him to 97 and he had a charmed life on 99 when Vijay Shankar overstepped with the opener offering a catch to third man.
He completed his debut hundred off 155 balls and the entire Mumbai team gave him a standing ovation.
Having swept Srinivas well, he was finally out when he tried one shot too many off the left-arm spinner, and was caught by T Natarajan at mid-wicket boundary. But he had done his job by then.