Barely a week before his trip to Bangladesh for the U-19 Asia Cup, opener Yashasvi Jaiswal had an issue that was bothering him. He was out twice while stepping out in the recently concluded quadrangular series in Lucknow. To iron out this minor glitch, the harried teen turned to seasoned pro Wasim Jaffer for some valuable inputs. Jaffer’s advice was simple: “Don’t leave the crease until your’re well set and sure of getting on top of the bowlers.”
In hindsight, this helped Jaiswal to a great degree, because throughout the U-19 tournament, he displayed a great degree of composure and never stepped out, barring in the final against Sri Lanka, when he did so after he was well set and had got the measure of the opposition’s bowling.
On a heady Sunday night, as India’s colts clinched the Asia Cup by overwhelming the Sri Lankans by 144 runs, it was Jaiswal’s measured 113-ball 85 at the top of the order that set the tone for the team’s historic victory march. Infact, Jaiswal was prolific throughout the tournament, registering scores of 104, 92, 37 and 85, which helped him win the Player-of-the-tournament award.
The Asia Cup performance was backed by scores of 35, 103 and 17 in the U-19 quadrangular tournament, which featured Nepal, Afghanistan, along with India A and India B. Despite racking up consistent scores, it’s the inputs from Jaffer that really helped him turn a corner.
Jaiswal, though, concedes he is happy with his performance on Sunday, but rues the fact that he missed out on a possible three-figure score. “I’m really happy but disappointed at the manner I was given out. I could have scored another century. I remember before coming here I had a good preparation with Jwala (Singh) sir and I had few issues where I was getting out while stepping out. I kept batting for three-three hours entire day. It was Wasim bhai who came as a big help. He said sab grounded shot mar, aur tez maar so that boundary mile. Once I’m not sure I should not leave my crease. I just did that during this Asia Cup, I never stepped out except in final,” Jaiswal told The Indian Express from Bangladesh post India’s win.
Despite his difficult past, Jaiswal’s ride at domestic cricket so far has been terrific. For three years, he lived with groundsmen in the Muslim United Club’s tent at the Azad Maidan ground in Mumbai. He had to move there after being thrown out of a dairy shop where he used to live. Yashasvi Jaiswal was just 11 then, and the only thing that kept him going was the dream to play cricket for India.
The younger of two sons to a small-time shopkeeper in Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh, Jaiswal moved to Mumbai to pursue cricket. His father did not object since he found it hard to feed the family. An uncle, Santosh, in Mumbai, had a house in Worli, but it wasn’t big enough for another occupant. Santosh had requested the owners of Muslim United Club, where he was a manager, if the boy could stay in the tent.
However, his entry into U-19 cricket didn’t go along expected lines. He was out for scores of 15 and 1 in his first two ODIS against Sri Lanka, and was consequently dropped. Jaiswal recalls he wasn’t sure whether he will get a chance again or not. “Mann darr gaya tha, my coach Jwala Singh sir kept motivating me.” As luck would have it, he got a chance in the final game of that series against Sri Lanka, where he scored an unbeaten 114 and made an instant impact. “I got last game and scored 114 not out. It was a big boost and later Raman sir (WV Raman) came and said that I should just try to play entire 50 overs and rest will follow, luckily things have gone as I wanted. I just try to play those copy book shots and not to try anything extra,” he said.
His performances at the Asia Cup further indicates his rapidly growing stock. As Mumbai’s former U-19 coach Satish Samant put it: “Jaiswal has an extraordinary game sense with an unflappable focus.” On Sunday night, he displayed all that and much more.
Brief Scores: India Under-19s 304/3 (Jaiswal 85, Simran 65*, Rawat 57, Badoni 52*) beat Sri Lanka Under-19s 160 (Madushka 49, Paranavithana 48, Tyagi 6-38).