Double-shooter Yashasvi Jaiswal on the way UP
BENGALURU: “I was just playing and it happened,” was Mumbai opener Yashasvi Jaiswal’s candid confession after his double hundred in Wednesday’s Vijay Hazare Trophy game against Jharkhand. These words may reflect the rawness of a 17-year-old, but he is mature beyond age with the bat, possessing an ability to make others sit up and notice.
The left-hander made his List A debut this season and averages 100.80 in five matches. He has three centuries including the 203 off 154 balls (4x17, 6x12), which makes him just the third Indian to achieve this feat in domestic cricket. He is also the youngest to a List A double in the world. South African Alan Barrow held the previous record of hitting one at 20 in 1975.
Behind success, there is a story of pain and struggle, which only made Jaiswal stronger. The Uttar Pradesh-born teenager did not have a place to stay after moving to Mumbai a decade ago to chase his cricket dream. He stayed with groundsmen in Azad Maidan for a couple of years. There were days when he did not eat. He also sold pani puris before being spotted at the nets by coach Jwala Singh. “I was impressed,” recalled the coach, who asked him to come over to his house after learning about his struggles.
After seeing him score runs in a tournament, Singh wanted to ensure that Jaiswal became a quality cricketer and hardships did not come in between. His ward has been staying with him since 2013. “He is part of my family. I take all his important decisions,” said Singh.
His parents come over to meet him at times, as Jaiswal barely finds time to visit home regularly. “Jwala sir is like my father. I am playing only because of him. He motivates me when I am not doing well. He is like god to me. Whatever I am today, everything is because of him,” quipped Jaiswal, who has played for the India U-19 team and hit four half-centuries in a tri-series in England in July-August. He is expected to play a huge role in India’s Under-19 World Cup set to take place in South Africa.
On Wednesday, Jaiswal looked on top against experienced Jharkhand bowlers such as Varun Aaron and Shahbaz Nadeem. He hit them for two and three sixes, respectively. He paced his innings well, scoring his first 100 in 101 balls and the second off just 48. It was not about slogging, but quality shots all around the park.
Singh warns Jaiswal not to get swayed by success. “He has the qualities to do well at the top level. He has a solid temperament. But in today’s cricket, what is important is focus. There are a number of successful players at the U-19 and other levels too, but they are not consistent. I feel Jaiswal will get better as he gets greater guidance as he moves towards the higher level. It also depends on how he takes this success,” said the coach.
Due to Jaiswal’s innings, Mumbai compiled 358/3 and Jharkhand managed 319 in reply. The 39-run win put Mumbai in fifth position with 20 points on the combined table of Group A and B. They have completed their eight matches but a quarterfinal spot is still not guaranteed. It will depend on Thursday’s matches featuring other contenders.