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Yashasvi Jaiswal is the T20I opener India desperately need

Last updated on 26 Nov 2023 | 08:12 PM
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Yashasvi Jaiswal is the T20I opener India desperately need

It's a bit too early to compare but all the signs suggest he is the most aggressive opener India have seen in the 20-over format

Yashasvi Jaiswal doesn’t care. He doesn’t care who the bowler is. He doesn’t care who the opponent is. He doesn’t care which over it is. He doesn’t care about the conditions. He doesn’t care about the context of the competition. When he walks out to bat, Yashasvi Jaiswal does one thing the best, that is to make his presence known, and that too from the word go.

When it comes to T20Is, India have always lacked an opener who could go gung-ho in the powerplay, and that has hurt them in the last two T20 World Cups. And that’s where Jaiswal comes into play. The left-handed opener is “fearless”, and in his short 10-match T20I career, the 21-year-old has already instilled fear into the opponent's mind with that approach. 

In the ongoing five-match T20I series against Australia, Jaiswal has slammed 74 runs across two innings at a strike rate of 224.24 and has given India a rapid start in both games. He smoked 21 off just eight deliveries in the first T20I in Visakhapatnam and followed it up with a match-winning 25-ball 53 in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday (November 26)

“It was really special for me, enjoyed today. I was trying to play all my shots, be fearless, take bowlers on. I was fully sure of my decisions. I have been told by Surya bhai (Suryakumar Yadav) and VVS (Laxman) bhai to express myself. I have really worked on my fitness and play shots,” said Jaiswal after being named the Player of the Match.

“Play all my shots, be fearless, take bowlers on.” - Jaiswal doesn’t like to talk too much but described his batting approach perfectly after the game. It’s a simple no-nonsense approach. But at the same time, it’s not mindless slogging. Jaiswal lasted for less than six overs in the second T20I but still managed to clobber nine fours and two maximums. And he did all this despite being 3 off 7 at the end of two overs.

The mayhem started once Glenn Maxwell came into the attack. The offspinner straightaway bowled one under Jaiswal’s bat, and the left-hander smashed it towards extra cover to get some momentum into his innings. All hell broke loose in the next over, where Sean Abbott was hit for 4, 4, 4, 6 and 6 in the space of five deliveries.

Jaiswal was going after everything but never lost his shape except for once, which led to his dismissal. Anything short on the body was pulled over deep mid-wicket and deep square leg, while anything short outside off was sliced through the point region. That’s not it. Jaiswal also used the pace of Abbott and Nathan Ellis and smartly collected a couple of boundaries towards third man.

His three consecutive fours off Ellis helped him complete his fifty off just 24 deliveries. It was largely because of him India got past the 50-run mark in less than four overs. Meanwhile, Jaiswal himself registered a record of scoring the most runs (53) and boundaries (11) in the first six overs of a T20I for India. From 3 off 7 to 53 off 25, the batter smacked 50 runs in the space of 17 deliveries.

He was caught at short third man while playing another big shot, however, the damage was already done. The Men in Blue were 77/1 at the end of the powerplay, and despite scoring 29 runs in the next five overs, India ended up amassing 235 in 20 overs, which eventually proved more than enough for Australia. Ishan Kishan and Rinku Singh played their part, but the foundation was laid by Jaiswal, which is exactly what India need in this format.

This is not the first time we have seen Jaiswal do what he did on Sunday. Let’s go back to IPL 2023, Jaiswal scored the most amount of runs in the powerplay and did that with the best strike rate - 361 runs @ 60.17 and a strike rate of 175.2. He faced fewer deliveries (206) than seven other batters and still scored more runs than each of them.

Now, he has brought the same approach to international cricket. 322 runs in 10 innings at an average of 35.78 and a strike rate of 177.9 - Jaiswal is the T20I opener India desperately need, especially if they are planning to have Shubman Gill at the other end. 

What makes Jaiswal special is that these runs come at a pace in the powerplay, which can often put the opponents on the backfoot. 

The sample size isn’t big, but it’s enough to prove our point. Amongst batters from the top-10 ranked T20I sides who have scored at least 200 runs in the powerplay since 2021, Jaiswal’s strike rate of 175.4 is the best. The second-best is Nicholas Pooran’s 159.1. Jaiswal also has the best balls/boundary (3.2) in this phase. Even if you remove the year criteria, Jaiswal still has the best strike rate and balls/boundary. 

We know it’s a bit too early to compare him with other Indian T20I openers, but all the signs suggest he is the most aggressive opener India have seen in the 20-over format. Just look at how he starts. In his first 10 deliveries of an innings, Jaiswal has a strike rate of 158.8. The second best (minimum five innings) is Virender Sehwag - 134. Meanwhile, Gill has an SR of just 101.1, which is the worst among all 13. 

The aforementioned numbers should be enough to tell you why India and Gill need Jaiswal. The latter’s aggressiveness would allow Gill to take some time, and we all know what he is capable of once he gets his eye in. 

What makes Jaiswal special is his all-round game against both pace (SR- 175.18) and spin (SR - 163.89). He doesn’t have a particular weakness against any length and line and that makes him a difficult batter to bowl at.

Rohit Sharma’s T20I future is uncertain, but we all know what he did in the 2023 ODI World Cup, playing selfless and aggressive cricket in the powerplay, and this is exactly what Jaiswal can do in the 2024 T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States. So, the more aggressive Yashasvi Jaiswal is, the better it is for India.

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