Prithvi Shaw doesn't like to work in the nets when he is struggling for runs, but keeps on batting and batting in the nets when he is in form. The Delhi Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting revealed this "interesting theory" of Shaw, who had an unimpressive IPL in 2020 with just 228 runs from 13 innings at an average of 17.53. Ponting said he tried hard to get Shaw to work on certain aspects of his game when the opener was out of form during the last IPL, but couldn't get Shaw into the nets.
"I've had some really interesting chats with him through last year's IPL, just trying to break him down, trying to find out exactly what was the right way to coach him and how I was going to get the best out of him," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"He had an interesting theory on his batting last year. When he's not scoring runs, he won't bat, and when he is scoring runs, he wants to keep batting all the time. He had four or five games where he made under ten and I'm telling him, 'We have to go to the nets and work out [what's wrong]', and he looked me in the eye and said, 'No, I'm not batting today'. I couldn't really work that out.
"He might have changed. I know he's done a lot of work over the last few months, that theory that he had might have changed, and hopefully, it has, because if we can get the best out of him, he could be a superstar player."
Ponting said that he told Shaw during the 2020 IPL that he disagreed with his philosophy about practice. Shaw started the tournament as the Capitals' incumbent opener but eventually lost his place in the XI due to poor form.
"I was going pretty hard at him," Ponting said. "I was basically telling him, 'Mate you've got to get in the nets. Whatever you think you're working on, is not working for you.'
"It's my job as a coach to challenge someone's preparation if they're not getting results. So I challenged him and he stuck to his word and he didn't practice much at all towards the back-end of the tournament, and didn't get many runs towards the back-end of the tournament either."
After the IPL, Shaw played the opening Test in Adelaide in December but was dropped after he survived just six balls and was bowled by incoming deliveries. Shaw later said he felt "worthless" after being dropped and "broke down" in his room.
Shaw then turned to the nets with India head coach Ravi Shastri and batting coach Vikram Rathour, and played the Vijay Hazare Trophy - India's 50-over tournament - to amass 827 runs in eight matches, leading Mumbai to a title win by smashing 73 off 39 in the final against Uttar Pradesh. He averaged 165.40 in the tournament, striking at 138.29, with the help of four centuries which included unbeaten knocks of 227 and 185.
Ponting said Shaw's form is perfect for the Capitals because it gives them a better balance.
"Maybe [his training habits] have changed for the better, because [his success] won't just be for the Delhi Capitals, I'm sure you'll see him play a lot of cricket for India as well in the coming years," Ponting said. "He's diminutive, in the Tendulkar sort of mould but hits the ball incredibly powerfully off the front and back foot, and plays spin really well.
"If we can get him to take that form that he's just shown into the IPL, it just makes the balance on our Delhi Capitals side so good. If [the penny] does drop - I'm not sure I've seen many more talented players than him in my whole time of playing the game."