MUMBAI: When you see a miniscule figure slicing fast bowlers almost twice his size, you can’t help but admire. At 18 years, 329 days, Prithvi Shaw became the youngest cricketer to score a hundred on Test debut.

Laced with graceful drives, pulls, lofted shots against spin — a blend of the Virender Sehwag school of strokeplay and Sachin Tendulkar-like dynamics — Shaw announced his arrival with a 134 against West Indies in Rajkot last week.

You know a player is gifted when he has eight centuries and three half-centuries in only 15 First-Class games in a two-year domestic career. The debate, however, is regarding the time of his arrival and the tough road ahead.

Even if he cements his spot in the Test squad, there are no Test matches for the first half of 2019 after the tour Down Under. It could well be starting afresh when he takes guard again. The real deal of a youngster’s ability and capability — at the start of career — lies in all formats, and Shaw has proven his limited-overs acumen in the IPL.

He perhaps deserves an ODI call-up to at least travel with the squad.

So where does he stand in the scheme of things at present? Four Test matches in Australia, if he is retained in the playing XI throughout the series. The picture after the World Cup is still blurry, and fixtures are yet to be announced.

Gautam Gambhir, who saw him from close quarters in the Delhi Daredevils camp, praised the youngster but warned him of the greater challenges. “He is impressive and talented. That’s why he is there. He started off his Test career on a good note but there will be far difficult challenges,” said Gambhir, at an event here on Wednesday.

Shaw has been forever ready.

“I was ready in England as well but finally got the opportunity here. But England was a great experience,” said Prithvi after the first Test. He felt comfortable in the presence of Virat Kohli.

“He told me there is nothing called senior-junior in the team. It was nice sharing the dressing room with players who have played international cricket for more than five years. Everyone is a friend now,” the 18-year-old loved his England experience.

What proves that he is ready for all formats? Well, he answered that too. “Whenever I go in the middle, I try to play according to the merit of the ball. I did the same in my first Test. I didn’t think differently. I played the same way I played for India A and Mumbai,” he clarified.

The Indian cricket team waiting list is common for all rising cricketers, and Prithvi knows how to graduate.

The rest, time will tell.