Yashasvi Jaiswal’s tale is a well-known one, with his struggle well noted. Despite being only 22, Jaiswal already has made a steady mark in domestic cricket with centuries in Duleep Trophy, Irani Trophy, and Ranji Trophy, making the record books a joke. However, the step up to the Indian Premier League was quite a steep one.
In an era where increasingly intent has become the need of the hour, Jaiswal is producing that and more with his opening partner, Jos Buttler. Until 2022, Jaiswal probably wouldn’t have been the name on everyone’s lips when you put forth the question: who are possible choices for India in T20Is?
Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill were all putting up their hands for a spot in the Indian XI. Until that point, Jaiswal was a newbie; he was like a small fish in an Indian ocean.
He had scored 213 runs, averaging 22.23 and a strike-rate of 136.3, and that led to Rajasthan even dropping him during the course of the 2022 season, for Devdutt Padikkal. It all seemed valid, and for the right cause, considering how the youngster just looked out of water.
There was just the one-fifty, there were a lot of starts but unfortunately, unless you get the fire, smoke rarely matters in Indian cricket.
"The same thing happened there in IPL. I got three games, was out, and came back (into the side) after seven games. But through all these gaps, I had it in my mind that I need to work hard and be disciplined all the time," Jaiswal had told PTI back then.
And then he worked hard.
Buttler and Jaiswal are probably the most blockbuster of opening pairs in IPL.
If you think of it, it is quite a weird combination in terms of complimenting each other but in terms of destruction, IPL was certainly not ready for it.
Since the start of IPL 2021, there have been quite a few opening partnerships, 50 of them. Some have lasted, some have withered away and a few others have been done and dusted. David Warner-Prithvi Shaw have been possibly a match made in heaven, in terms of their aggressive batting style but even that pair over the last two years has withered.
Jaiswal and Buttler are one of those matches made in heaven that didn’t look like love at first sight. This season, no other opening pair has been as destructive as them, with a strike-rate of well in excess of 160, and an average close to 55.
Since 2021, the two have opened in 20 innings, and average 36.9, with a strike-rate of 145.3. Naturally, you would assume that Buttler is the one that stands out, right?
Surely, an English international, who is also a World Cup-winning captain must be leading this partnership. Nope. Jaiswal is an alpha. He’s one of those alphas who are quite attacking. In the opening stand that these two have shared, Jaiswal has contributed to 414 of the 738 runs.
And he’s the fulcrum of attacking Wonderland. If there ever exists such a thing in cricket. In an era where batters are often content with runs scored, Jaiswal’s approach is quite a lavish luxury at Royals’ disposal.
In the remainder of the clashes in 2022, after Jaiswal’s return, this is the damage he did: 233 runs @33.28, two fifties and a strike-rate of 137.05. But what he has done this season is possibly turning a new page in his thus far illustrious career.
It is a sea of yellove in Rajasthan, the fans are filled with MS Dhoni’s jersey, a final tribute to one of IPL’s glorious superstars. Everything was going as per the script, Rajasthan were going to bat first, and Dhoni would get a shot at chasing down a total. The crowd were roaring, and some couldn’t even put bums on the seat.
That’s when the loudest noise of the day came, courtesy of Jaiswal. Throwing caution to the wind, Jaiswal stepped down the track and creamed Akash Singh for a cover drive. It was picture-perfect, he could have literally stood there, and a museum would have been constructed around him. And then he went once again.
And then again. Then came a six. Then he worked one through the gap for another four. At the end of ten deliveries, Jaiswal was already on 27. That’s a strike-rate of 270. Amongst batters this year, no one, I repeat no one has a better first ten-ball strike-rate than the 22-year-old Jaiswal (172.6). That is a roar and a half.
It was literally halla bol.
Jaiswal isn’t doing it the easy way. He is making the tough look easy. Usually, good-length deliveries are the toughest ones to hit as a batter. It is possibly one of those areas that differentiate a solid batter from just a batter. Jaiswal strikes at 137.8 in those lengths. After the first 11-ball onslaught, Dhoni realised that perhaps pace isn’t the way.
He turned to spin – his trusted ally – and later found out that Jaiswal was a monster. Jaiswal made his intentions quite clear, if the ball is in his arc, he will sweep and ensure that the bowlers pay a price for it. He tried it against Theekshana and nearly was on his way out.
But when Ravindra Jadeja was introduced into the attack, he showed that under the lid that has a kid with a buzz-cut, there was power and innovation. Realising Jadeja’s ploy, Jaiswal turned into a right-hander and deposited the ball right into the stands, and soon raised his 50 off just 26 balls.
If you think that’s all he had in store, again you are wrong. A glorious inside-out shot against Moeen Ali was possibly a contender for the shot of the day.
It was almost divine.
Let’s put it this way since that drop happened, Jaiswal is no longer the player he was. He is literally a beast.
Since May 2022, when he made an eventual return to the Rajasthan setup, Jaiswal has cranked up the pace, scoring 537 runs. Only four batters in that time frame have scored more than him: Faf du Plessis, Devon Conway, Jos Buttler and Ruturaj Gaikwad. But what sets him apart is his impact early on in the game.
Amongst all openers in that time frame, only Quinton de Kock has shown more aggression early on than Jaiswal. Just a few days ago, Jaiswal had slowed down massively post the powerplay, leading to a massive outcry on his batting.
But a few days later, against another southern opposition, Chennai Super Kings, Jaiswal showed that powerplay or not, his impact will always be there in the clash. There are openers, there are good openers and then there are openers like Jaiswal.
“I enjoy pressure and want to be there when there is pressure. I was only thinking of keeping my strike rate high and I knew we need 200 to defend on this surface,” Jaiswal had to say after the clash against Chennai.
India need openers who show high intent? Jaiswal might just be a call or two away.