When a batter secures bragging rights way too early in his career, everyone seems so infatuated with the promise that the law of averages seems like an afterthought. That this batter can fail seems very diabolical to imagine.
With Yashasvi Jaiswal, that’s very much the case, but with a little more rigidity and a level of paranoid promise. Of course, he may go on to fail in the future - as he did in the two-match Test series in South Africa - but his ability to force himself into the game makes him a stand-out prospect.
In the first Test in Hyderabad, the Mumbai batter responded to Bazball with his own version of Jaisball, but in Visakhapatnam, it was about playing the patience game, planning to out-bat England from Day 1 itself. Unlike how India did it in Hyderabad, where Indian batters took it on their ego, proceedings here in the second Test were diametrically opposite.
The coastal district of Visakhapatnam was five degrees hotter than Hyderabad, with way more humidity. With the inclusion of James Anderson, who at 41 still provides impeccable control, England's attack was a lot more pronounced. Scoring areas had been limited to the degree that Rohit Sharma, a naturally attacking batter, was finding it hard to clear the in-field.
That didn’t matter, of course, for Jaiswal. He has a First-Class average of over 70 in such conditions and knows how to bide time there. Plus, playing all his cricket in Mumbai, humidity was never an issue for him to worry about.
When India lost Rohit Sharma early, it could have opened the floodgate, with India’s middle order seeming softer than a straw and a tissue paper. The absence of Ravindra Jadeja had clearly left India a batter short, with many questioning the selection of Mukesh Kumar over Washington Sundar.
England had also responded with a leg theory in the post-lunch session, with their bowlers settling into bowling outside the off-stump channel with the limited turn on offer. They were hoping to tempt him into a rash stroke. That never came. Jaiswal didn’t just leave his bus unattended but also refused to park anywhere but in the middle.
Stepping aside his hard-hitting avatar, Jaiswal broke England’s aspirations with an innings of panache and prolificity. He batted with a strike rate of 50s with a control rate of over 90.5% till the 43rd over when he decided to loft Tom Hartley for four before adding another couple of boundaries on the next two balls.
Hartley and Bashir's high release points had created considerable problems for India in Hyderabad, but Jaiswal had thwarted the plans with drive and cuts - without resorting to sweeps or reverse sweeps. His three fours in the 44th over really changed the game's dynamics.
From there, it was really a one-way street. It was really a surprise why England skipper Ben Stokes didn't employ the leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed till the 59th over.
For a counter to Bazball, Jaiswal’s innings was pretty much a tutorial to bat in India. To keep your feet stuck in the ground before quickly scrambling out to defend the base or going on the back foot to cut a leg-spinner. All these virtues make a batter succeed in Indian conditions and make you a better player of spin bowling. A Virat Kohli in his prime or a Cheteshwar Pujara for the longest time in their career left a lingering taste of magic by doing the same boring things over and over again.
Jaiswal is a far more attacking batter than the above two and, certainly, no less in temperament. The quirky mix has made the Visakhapatnam innings possible, virtually settling his place for years to come. While he definitely showed he has the flair, he continues to show that he has the temperament, setting him apart from the competition.
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