Hard-knock life to knocks with double delight

Last Updated 20 October 2020, 07:47 IST

By Wednesday afternoon here at the KSCA Alur ground, Yashasvi Jaiswal had become the youngest cricketer in the world to slam a double century in List A cricket. Even as the stupendous achievement went viral on various social media platforms, the 17-year-old Mumbai batsman had no clue about the fact.

“I didn’t know about this. This is great news. I thank God for whatever I am today,” Jaiswal told reporters. Jaiswal’s match-winning 154-ball 203 (17x4, 12x6) against Jharkhand in a Vijay Hazare Trophy game was a big leap in his promising journey. Jaiswal has now pushed South Africa’s Alan Barrow – who struck a double ton at 20 in 1975 -- to the second spot.

It’s not hard to miss Jaiswal’s belief in God as he speaks and it’s not surprising. For behind the teenager’s rise to fame lies a story of struggle and humiliation and of dreams and perseverance. Like hundreds of youngsters, Jaiswal moved to Mumbai carrying a dream of making it big in cricket.

However, Jaiswal lacked the privilege to pursue his ambition. Moving to the city of dreams from Uttar Pradesh at the age of 11, Jaiswal didn’t have a roof over his head and made ends meet by selling pani puri on the streets. It appeared that the only luxury Jaiswal had was the luxury to dream.

“Those days have made me strong,” says Jaiswal. “Today, you put me in any situation in a match I won’t back off from it. Adversity doesn’t break me because, I have faced it all,” he says.

Jaiswal, who lived in a tent, often felt a sense of shame when he would have had to sell paani poori in the evening to same boys who he used to play with in the day and would call him bhaiyya (elder brother) because he commanded so much respect as a cricketer on the field.

It took immense support from coach Jwala Singh and great hunger from Jaiswal to take the youngster from the tents of Azad Maidan ground to the India U-19 and the senior Mumbai teams. The tough past has made him a fearless cricketer. “Jwala sir is like my father. My dream was to play for Mumbai. Nobody knows where I will reach but I know my job is to play,” he states.

With three tons in just five List A games, Jaiswal has had an unbelievable start to senior cricket. He adopts a calm approach to shut out the noise around him. “It’s nice to know people are talking about me. My family is happy to see me in news. But I am just focusing on the process of being a good player. Mujhe sirf ek hi chees maalom hai aur wo hai cricket kelna (I know just one things and that’s to play cricket),” he admits.

Jaiswal has shown signs of a stereotypical Mumbai batsman. “People say Mumbai batsmen are khadoos and don’t throw their wickets way. Even I want to be like that, and I want to bat long,” says the left-hander, who idolises Wasim Jaffer and Sachin Tendulkar.

He has kept the defending champions Mumbai in the race for knockouts with two fine knocks in the last two games. On Wednesday, the clean-hitting left his opponents helpless and took Mumbai to a massive 358/3. Despite Jharkhand’s fighting reply of 319 all out, Jaiswal remained the toast of the day. This has come at the cost of missing his 10th grade final exam.

“This (cricket) is everything for me. Nothing else matters,” he says.

(Published 16 October 2019, 18:13 IST)

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