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Jaiswal, a more developed phenomenon than Bazball

Last updated on 11 Mar 2024 | 03:04 PM
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Jaiswal, a more developed phenomenon than Bazball

One thing missing from England Bazballing around was the ability to absorb pressure when needed - something Jaiswal showed in abundance with his measured approach

“I want to be calm about him, not talk much about him. He's started his career on a high,” said Rohit Sharma about Yashasvi Jaiswal after the 22-year old smashed England in Rajkot for his second double hundred in successive Tests. Rohit repeated in the press conference that he doesn’t want to speak much about him yet. 

It is a very Indian thing to say. When something is going good, you don’t want to jinx it by mentioning it out loud. Jaiswal has been that good thing going on in Indian cricket. 

In their 92-year-long history, Indian Test cricket has not been blessed with many long-term openers. You can probably count them at your fingertips. Sunil Gavaskar and Virender Sehwag are the only Indian openers with over 5000 runs. Navjot Singh Sidhu, Gautam Gambhir and Murali Vijay fulfilled the role decently. Rohit Sharma arrived late as a Test opener but has been looking for a stable opening partner at the other end. 

Until the World Test Championship final last year, Rohit had opened with Shubman Gill, who wanted to move down the order, KL Rahul, who had to be moved down the order, and Mayank Agarwal, who had gone out of favour. 

Enter Yashasvi Jaiswal in the West Indies with an average of 80.2 across 26 first-class innings, converting nine of his 11 50-plus scores into hundreds and white-ball success for India and Rajasthan Royals. 

Jaiswal had everything going his way, including the timing of his debut as India were beginning a new WTC cycle. 

Since his debut in Dominica, he has hammered 1028 runs at an average of 68.5, notching up four fifties and three hundreds. Good things were expected from Jaiswal but he has delivered more than he envisaged. He has the most runs for any Indian opener after the first nine Tests. 

But more than his tally of runs, it is the manner in which he has scored them that has made him stand out. The left-hander has shown different traits of being a ready product already in all his big knocks. 

His 171 on debut itself portrayed him as a seasoned pro. On a slow pitch, he batted for over six hours with a sense of inevitability about his innings. In Visakhapatnam against England, when India were 0-1 behind, Jaiswal contributed 209 in India’s 396. It was nearly 53% of the team total. 

In the second innings in Rajkot, Jaiswal buried England with 214 at a strike rate of 90.7. Staying true to his conversion rate, he has become the first Indian batter to transform his first three hundreds into 150-plus scores, and each has been bigger than the other. Arguably, Jaiswal has instigated the same hype as Gavaskar must have at the start of his career in the early 70s: How is he so good so early in his career? 

Recognizing the enormity of his 209, the team management, including the head coach Rahul Dravid and the skipper Rohit, welcomed the youngster with a standing ovation.

Just take a moment to recall Jaiswal’s story here - from living in tents as a teenager to warm applause from two stalwarts of Indian cricket at only 22. It was one of THE moments of the series. 

Cricket experts and Jaiswal himself have credited his hunger to his challenging upbringing. "In India, when growing up, you work really hard for each and everything. Even when getting the bus, you have to work really hard to get the bus. You have to work really hard to get to the train and auto and everything. I have done that since my childhood, and I know how important every innings is. That's why I really work hard in my sessions,” Jaiswal said after the Rajkot win. 

But from a cricketing perspective, Jaiswal has all the ingredients for a successful opener and has inculcated his life learnings into his batting approach. 

To begin, he likes to absorb the pressure and bat big. Circle back to his 209 in Vizag. The left-hander scored only 17 off 67 balls against Anderson but cashed in against spinners by scoring 192 off 223 balls. In Rajkot, he was 35 off 73 balls at one point before scoring 214 off 236 balls. 

Jaiswal had a strike rate of 60.7 in the first 30 balls of his innings in the five Tests against England, which is a pretty good stat. Post the 30th ball, it skied up to 87.2. 

In a very short time, Jaiswal has attained the image of being a spin bowling marauder, enabling him to accelerate after getting his eye in. In T20Is, he averages 49 against spin at a strike rate of 181.5. In Tests, the average is 112.2, with the strike rate being 75.8.

Against England, the UP-born would bash spinners to cover up for slow starts. Of his 712 runs in the series, 337 came against Shoaib Bashir and Tom Hartley alone. One is a positive match-up, and the other is negative, but Jaiswal struck them both at a strike rate above 90. He smoked four sixes against pace and 22 against spin, covering half of the ground with his maximums. 

None of it means that Jaiswal is vulnerable against pace. During his 214 in Rajkot, he had 46 runs from only 21 balls against Anderson. Him being a successful T20 batter, to a level where excluding him from India’s T20 squad would seem criminal even after the return of the seniors, has helped him switch gears seamlessly, irrespective of the opposition bowler. He had a quiet series in South Africa, but those pitches were extreme.

In a tongue-in-cheek comment during the series, England opener Ben Duckett credited Jaiswal’s success to England’s attacking style of play rubbing on batters worldwide. However, one thing missing from England Bazballing around was the ability to absorb pressure when needed - something Jaiswal showed in abundance with his measured approach. 

“Now I will talk about him,” said Rohit, shrugging off the superstitions after the 4-1 series win in Dharamsala. “The guy has a long way to go,” Rohit added about his young opening partner. 

Ticking multiple boxes, Jaiswal has showcased himself as the perfect opener for home-like conditions. The only question that remains, considering the long way he has to go, is if he can repeat the same in overseas pace-friendly conditions. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under will further show how far Jaiswal goes in adding to the list of prominent Indian openers. 

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