Ricky Ponting feels IPL 2023 could be the season the "real Prithvi Shaw" turns up.
"He's trained harder and better than I've ever seen. I'm pretty sure leading into an IPL, he is in better physical shape than I've ever seen him before," Ponting told reporters in Delhi on Friday. "And I spoke to him the other day about his attitude and the way that he's working and how things are going. I honestly feel that this is going to be his biggest season ever in the IPL.
"He just has that different look in his eye this year - you can see that he's probably hungrier than ever. Yes he's had some success for us, but I think with the level of talent and ability that he's got, I think we're going to see the real Prithvi Shaw this season."
Shaw has played five IPL seasons with Delhi Capitals, with 2021 his best, when he scored 479 runs at an average of 31.93 and a strike rate of 159.14. Barring that, he has largely been inconsistent, with a tournament average of 25.21 and a strike rate of 147.45, but he was retained by the side ahead of the IPL 2022 auction.
Over the past 18 months, Shaw has had an up-and-down time, falling off the pace as a contender for a spot in India's white-ball squads initially, and then struggling with his fitness. He last represented India in July 2021.
However, he bounced back in the 2022-23 domestic season with consistent scores for West Zone, India A and Mumbai, with big hundreds in the Duleep Trophy, the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Ranji Trophy, which translated into his inclusion in the T20I squad in January. His 383-ball 379 against Assam is the second-highest Ranji score of all time.
Most recently, though, Shaw was in the news when there was an alleged attack on him and his car, a matter that is being dealt by the police.
Ponting, who is no stranger to trouble outside the field from his playing days, said that whether there had been issues outside the field, the one thing he can't stand is lazy players who do not utilise the talent they possess. On that front, Ponting felt Shaw had been ticking all the right boxes.
"It's well documented that I had some issues early on, but it's all about just being true to yourself and wanting to be the best that you can be," Ponting said. "The one thing that I always say to our players is I don't like laziness and I don't like guys not utilising the talent that they've got. That's one thing I always say.
"And so that's then my job as a coach. If I can see that guys aren't working as hard as they should, they're not getting the most out of them, then it's up to me to try and change that. So, you know, it just seems to me that this season, though, something has really clicked in Prithvi. He seems to be in a better space than ever before."
Ponting has worked closely with Shaw since taking over the head coach's role. In 2021, he had said that he hadn't seen a batter as talented as Shaw in all his years in cricket, but also revealed that he disagreed with Shaw's philosophy about practice, where he didn't bat in the nets when he was struggling with form.
Now, two years on, Ponting believes that his job as a head coach is as much about making the young squad members better people as it is about making them better cricketers. He said that cricketers having their personal lives in order allows them to be disciplined sportspersons on the field too.
Capitals head coach also talks about Sarfaraz's recovery and Axar's vice-captaincy appointment
"The thing about the IPL is you're seeing so many younger players getting an opportunity. They're maybe not ready for it. I mean, I think they're ready for the cricket side of it, but a lot of the guys are not ready for what comes with that," Ponting said. "There wasn't as much spotlight on me, I guess, back as a young player as there is on some of the young Indian guys.
"As a player, sometimes you want to play cricket, you want to get out there and represent your team, represent your franchise, and represent your country, but sometimes you don't see the bigger picture of it. There's a bigger picture out there than just you playing cricket. It's how everyone else perceives you in the real world.
"So that's my job to make them better players, but at the end of the day, I want to make them better people as well. That's a big part. The better person you are, I think it's easier to become a better player. And if you haven't got your personal life in order off the field, it's really difficult to be a disciplined performer on the field. So that's one of the things that I try to teach because I've been there and done it."
Capitals begin their IPL 2023 campaign away at Lucknow Super Giants on April 1, looking to improve from their fifth-place finish last season. They have named David Warner as captain in the absence of the injured Rishabh Pant, with Axar Patel named vice-captain.