No matter the quality of the opposition – Arya Gurukul’s main players were unavailable for this game as they were revising for their examinations – the fact that Pranav stayed at the wicket for so long and played so many scoring shots (129 fours, 59 sixes) is in itself a fantastic achievement. It stood taller than the high-rises that surround the Union Cricket Club ground on three sides.
A little over 117 years after AEJ Collins made 628 not out in a junior house match at Clifton College in Bristol, England, Pranav has ensured that he would not only take over that small corner in the prestigious Wisden Almanack, but also serve as an inspiration for everyone around. In the process, he helped KC Gandhi Higher Secondary School score a world record 1465 for three.
His father Prashant Dhanawade helped seed Pranav’s dreams by enrolling him for coaching at the prestigious MIG Cricket Club in Bandra, an hour and more away from their home. “I want my son to become a great cricketer. I spent extra hours driving the auto to afford the cricket gear for my son,” Prashant told The Indian Express.
There is already a massive spotlight of attention on the lad who believes in an aggressive brand of cricket. From the legendary Sachin Tendulkar to India’s limited-over captain MS Dhoni, from the Maharashtra Government to the newspapers to TV channels around the world, everyone has sat up and taken note. By the looks of it, he will come to terms with the pressure of expectation from him.
The 15-year-old oozed confidence despite the talk of the possibility of his becoming the first to score 1000 runs in an innings even when he was more than 350 runs away from that milestone. That he dealt with that pressure and cruised past the 1000-run mark is perhaps an indication of the mental make-up of a lad who is well aware of what he needs to do to stand out of the crowd.
His coach Mubin Rizvi made him aware of the fact that Sarfaraz Khan (498) and Armaan Jaffer (498) had forced the spotlight on themselves in Harris Shield matches in 2009 and 2010. And that Prithvi Shaw held the record for the highest score by an Indian batsman in minor cricket when he hit 546 for Rizvi Springfield against St Francis in the Harris Shield in 2013-14. “Once I reached 350, I was determined that I had to break those records,” Pranav said.
Many years ago, Tendulkar had said he never forgot that the scoreboard would show 0 not out when he walked out to bat at the start of each innings. Pranav will probably become aware of that but, at the moment, when he needed to an innings to call out to the Mumbai junior selectors, he let out a roar that could be heard loud and clear far beyond.
Over a number of years from now, he will get to hear about this innings as the cornerstone of not only his dreams but also that of many others around the world. For, his story is already one of immense self-belief and intense concentration. One which reassures us that an athlete’s socio-economic background does not really stop him or her from dreaming.