Former India batter Mohammad Kaif was with Delhi Capitals from 2019 to 2021 onwards. During this two-year period, he helped a lot of young batters among them was Under-19 World Cup-winning Prithvi Shaw. Back in 2019, Delhi Capitals were formed and they reached the last four in the debut season itself. One prime reason was Shaw and Dhawan’s opening stand. The Mumbaikar went onto the account for 353 runs at an average of 22 with two half-centuries. As you can see from the numbers, Shaw was going through a lean patch; that’s when he asked Kaif for his ‘ritual’ which Kaif elaborated in an exclusive with Sportskeeda.
“I was with the Delhi Capitals for three years and got to spend a lot of time with Prithvi Shaw. He had this ritual where, before the match, I used to hold a new ball with the seam and throw it underarm towards him, below his knee. He would keep knocking it back to me.”
“One day, when I was having tea, a player came in and told me that Shaw was waiting for me outside. I ran outside and asked him what happened. So, he told me, ‘Please bowl underarm to me, I am not getting runs. I want to start this ritual again’.”
The ‘ritual’ worked as Shaw had scores of 7, 24, 99, 0, 11, 9, 14, 4, 20, 13, 42 and 18 in the league stage. He also came up with a score of 99 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) where the game went to a super over.
“He was specific that I had to bowl underarm but with a straight seam and also below the knee so that the ball could meet the middle of the bat. He used to play 10-12 balls in that manner. He used to hit the ball back at me and get into a sort of batting rhythm,” added Kaif.
“In the next match, he went in and scored runs. After the game, we looked at each other and started laughing. We did not speak to each other, just made eye contact and I suggested that if a ritual is working, then don’t break it. He admitted that he had made a mistake and became lazy but assured that he would not repeat it. And he kept following the ritual after that.”