Earlier this month teenage sensation Prithvi Shaw became the youngest Indian to score a century on test debut. He scored a magnificent 134 in the first test against the Windies in Rajkot. He is the latest among some teenage debutants who have played for India. These young guns were fast-tracked into the senior team after their special talent was spotted early by the selectors. Some of them went on to have illustrious careers. We take a look at seven cricketers who made their test debut as teenagers.
A 19-year-old bespectacled leg-spinner captured headlines in 1988. Playing against the mighty West Indies which included the legendary Vivian Richards, Narendra Hirwani made a sensational debut by capturing 16 wickets. He equalled the record for picking up most wickets on test debut. Sadly, Hirwani couldn’t back the exploits of his debut match and soon faded away. Nevertheless, it still remains one of the finest debuts in Indian cricketing history. The West Indians didn’t have an answer to Hirwani’s leg spin during that test match in Chennai (then Madras)
At an age when you can’t even vote, Sachin Tendulkar was facing the world’s best fast bowling attack in their backyard. The master blaster showed his class as a 16-year-old when he made his debut in Pakistan against a bowling attack that boasted of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Imran Khan. Tendulkar impressed everyone with his temperament and technique. That series laid the foundation for what was going to be an epoch-making career. ‘The God of Cricket’ amassed over 15,000 runs in test cricket and captured the imagination of an entire generation of Indians
Within a year of making his first-class debut, this tall, lanky 18-year-old seamer was drafted into the test squad in 2007. People still remember the way he troubled Ricky Ponting on his first tour to Australia in 2007-08. He impressed one and all with the pace and bounce that he generated off the pitch. After an impressive debut, Sharma went off the boil for a while. Injury and lack of consistency was his undoing. However, he seems to have found his old rhythm back and looks a revitalised bowler now. He was the pick of the bowlers in the recently concluded India-England series. His five-wicket haul in the first test at Edgbaston was evidence that Ishant Sharma version 2.0 is hungrier and stronger
The current head coach of team India made his debut as an 18-year-old left arm spinner in 1981. He was drafted in as a last-minute replacement for the injured Dilip Doshi. Initially a lower order batsman, Shastri later went on to become a genuine all-rounder. His feat of hitting six sixes in an over in a Ranji Trophy game in 1985 is still part of Indian cricketing folklore. In the same year, he was elected as the ‘The Champion of Champions’ in the World Championship of Cricket held in Australia. Images of the Indian team driving around the ground in the Audi 100 presented to Shastri still lingers in the minds of cricket fans
One of India’s finest off-spinners, this feisty Sikh was all of 17 when he made his debut in 1998. He forged one of India’s finest bowling partnerships with Anil Kumble. Bowling in tandem, they were a lethal pair, especially on Indian tracks. Harbhajan’s finest performances came against the mighty Australian side of the early 2000s. Who can forget his 32-wicket tally in the 2000-01 series in India? Along with a certain ‘Very Very Special’ Laxman, ‘Turbanator’ Harbhajan became the toast of the nation
At 17 years and 153 days, Parthiv Patel became Test cricket’s youngest wicket-keeper when he debuted against England at Trent Bridge in 2002. The baby-faced stumper has been consistently inconsistent over the years. This has seen him flit in and out of the Indian team. He also has been unfortunate as he played in the same era as the irrepressible MS Dhoni. Nevertheless, he has turned in match-winning performances in the Ranji Trophy for Gujarat. It keeps him in contention for a place whenever a squad is being selected for a test series
In an era that boasted of spin wizards Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, there was another spinner who carved a niche for himself. With over 600 wickets, Anil Kumble retired in 2008 as one of test cricket’s greatest leg-spinners. But the tall and lanky Kumble had a forgettable outing as a 19-year-old debutante at Old Trafford, England. No one could imagine that the bookish-looking bespectacled bowler bowling ‘fastish’ leg-breaks would become India’s highest wicket-taker. ‘Jumbo’ came a long way from his modest debut to end up as a spin legend. His ‘Perfect Ten’ against Pakistan at Delhi in 1999 is one of Indian cricket’s most cherished memories