Yashasvi Jaiswal is not the chirpiest player in the Indian cricket team. At least, not anymore. Since being sent back to the dugout by his Mumbai captain Ajinkya Rahane in a Duleep Trophy match a couple of years ago, Jaiswal has toned down his verbal aggression massively, but if you think it would have had an impact on how he goes about his batting, please look away.
Jaiswal’s rise has a classic undertone of smashing the leather with brute force, but never mindlessly. He knows what he is capable of and how he should go about it. But more importantly, he knows when to leave good balls alone - the primary trait for an opener to succeed in Test cricket.
In Hyderabad, playing his first Test at home, the Mumbaikar didn’t give an inch to any bowler. If it were in his arc, he would dispatch it with sheer disdain. If it were not in his arc, he would still find a way to cut or drive it. England came prepared with Bazball, little did they know that they would be on the receiving end of Jaisball - a weirdly wonderful way of setting the tone in Indian conditions.
To play spin in India is to understand your own self a little better. You can’t move your brush randomly on a board to draw the Mona Lisa. There has to be a great deal of strategy and precision involved. Same way, you need to have an exact plan in place to take on Indian spinners.
But England employed sweep and reverse sweep from the very first hint of turn without realizing that it doesn’t work against the trio of Ashwin, Jadeja, and Axar. You might delay the inevitable by going down on your knees, but once the odd one stays low or doesn’t turn enough, you are doomed for good.
Jaiswal, albeit playing against far inferior spinners, did the exact opposite than his English counterparts. He grew up in Mumbai - in a system that rewards excellence. It is hard to see a Mumbai batter who doesn’t understand the craft of scoring against spinners comfortably. You wait for the ball, judge the length, figure out the line, and crack it - all within milliseconds. Where England faltered, Jaiswal was drawing a house-style guide for their future reference.
Since his audacious campaign for the India U-19 team four years ago, Jaiswal’s ability to judge spin early has always been pronounced. The first ball of the match was dispatched for a four; the first ball by a spinner was hit for a six - and then he continued to toy with all three of Jack Leach, Tom Hartley, and Rehan Ahmed to finish the day with an unbeaten knock of 76 runs off just 70 balls.
More than First-Class performances, setting the IPL stage on fire is now needed for a cricketer to be selected in the red-ball format. Jaiswal was no different, but his success can’t solely be attributed to his time at Rajasthan Royals. In his short FC career, he already has 10 centuries, a stunning conversion rate of close to 80%, and a freaking six 150-plus scores, including 171 on his Test debut in Roseau last year.
"He has taken to Test cricket like a duck to water and he hasn't put a foot wrong," Ashwin told TNT Sports. "He has a very carefree approach and I certainly enjoyed watching some of the shots that he has played. He reminds me of watching Rishabh Pant, those two could be fun if they bat together. That is the beauty of someone coming in and playing at this level, he has no baggage. He has had a lot of IPL success and a wonderful start to his first-class career."
The opening day of the Test series was as predictable as it could get - dominance of Indian spinners, Indian batters doing incredibly well to start off, and the wicket showing signs of turn. If England falter again in the second innings, the kind of chatter Indian fans would serve with is not too different from how it was in 2021.
But for every opinion served on English Cricket Twitter or by English commentators, there is a Jaiswal six to counter - you need quality to survive in Indian conditions. No matter who you are, reputation can’t be the only determining factor to alter the notion of batting in the sub-continent.
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