Visakhapatnam: Though Yashasvi Jaiswal is the youngest batter in the Indian Test line-up, his career-best knock of 209 seemed like the innings of a veteran, bailing the team out of a tricky situation. In the ongoing second Test against England at Visakhapatnam, Jaiswal showed a perfect blend of caution and aggression while exhibiting his immaculate footwork and shot placement to single-handedly power India to 396 via his maiden double-hundred.
It is in Jaiswal’s nature to bat aggressively, but the slowness in the Visakhapatnam pitch, which gave a placid look, meant England’s bowlers kept India in check, resulting in Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill falling after getting starts.
Jaiswal took time to get used to the pitch and situation before unleashing his aggressive play when the England spinners came in, including taking all of his seven sixes off them. Jaiswal’s ability to understand what a situation demands and adjust his play accordingly in Visakhapatnam brought great joy to his childhood coach, Jwala Singh.
“If you see here, all the other batters chipped in with their contributions, but only Yashasvi dominated. In the last Test at Hyderabad, he made runs and here he’s made a double hundred. So, to get a double hundred in what is just his sixth Test match and seeing him perform consistently, I am very, very happy,” a proud Jwala told IANS from Mumbai.
In Visakhapatnam, Jaiswal had to face a difficult test against the relentless James Anderson, resulting in him scoring only 16 runs in his first 42 balls. He brought out the sweep only in the 19th over when Tom Hartley erred by bowling a juicy full toss.
Jaiswal bided his time until he reached 41 runs from 87 balls when Shoaib Bashir sent down a full toss that he effortlessly sent sailing over mid-wicket for a six. The follow-up short ball came, and Jaiswal was well-prepared to exploit it by executing his trademark cut shot through the gap between the backward point and short third man, resulting in a boundary.
“I taught him from childhood that a good player is one who reads the situations well and responds as per the demand of it. Many players know how to bat and play their strokes well, but a player becomes special who knows how to win scoring moments in sessions. Like, if one has to play defensively and the bowler is on the top, then not giving him the wicket is also a kind of domination.”
“Dominating the play in Test cricket is not just about hitting fours or sixes; frustrating a bowler or not giving him your wicket when he’s bowling well is also a kind of domination. Yes, he could have got a hundred at Hyderabad when he was near to it. But here in Visakhapatnam, he assessed that the need was to play for long and play session-by-session to win it one by one at a time, without any major hurry. This was a proper Test innings from him: playing as per the demands of the situation,” added Jwala.
From there, Jaiswal capitalised on bad balls from the England spinners, including a six over long-on off Tom Hartley to get his century, while still being respectful against Anderson. On Saturday, he started slowly, before bringing up his double-hundred in style with back-to-back boundaries off Bashir –- slog-sweeping a down-leg delivery over backward square leg for six and following it up by sweeping a full toss for four.
While Jaiswal’s strategy to confront Anderson did not yield the desired results, the knock of 209 highlighted his ability to adjust his batting approach as needed. From balls 43-120, Jaiswal made 43 runs, while from balls 121-290, he amassed 150 runs. He kept India going despite other batters failing to support him at Visakhapatnam.
Jaiswal’s dismissal on 80 in the first innings of the Hyderabad Test proved to be a learning experience, according to Jwala, where he was foxed in flight and handed a return catch to Joe Root in the opening over of day two’s play.
“Test cricket also demands for you to spend time at the crease. In the Hyderabad match, the Indian batters, in a bid to score very quick runs, got out and gave time to the opposition to bat for long. I had and still tell him, as well as other trainees, that to be a match winner, it is not necessary to play in a quick fashion, it also has to be done by seeing in which situation the team is in a match.”
“I feel he did learn a lot from that game in Hyderabad. He’s a quick learner and doesn’t take much time to learn anything about the game. He analyses his own game and mistakes, which propels him to do well, and this is the beauty of his game,” he said.
Jwala revealed the visualisation work done with Jaiswal in the nets is helping the youngster navigate life as a Test cricketer.
“I have made him practice by giving situations like ‘now you will hit only sixes’, ‘now you have to stay not out’ or ‘now you have to just run between the wickets’. What everyone is seeing is the result of the preparation undertaken for the last ten years. I am really happy that whatever was taught to him, he’s stuck to it and is doing well at this stage.”
If one were to study Jaiswal’s career graph, then his 209 against England was a knock waiting to happen. The left-handed opener had previously hit double hundreds in the Irani Cup and 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy, apart from hitting centuries in all levels, ranging from U19 World Cup to IPL, Ranji Trophy, India ‘A’ and international cricket, including one on Test debut.
“If you see his progress, he has made big hundreds and double hundreds at every level, whether it’s one-day or day matches. So, he’s made runs in all formats and I have always said that even if you do one work, do it properly with full honesty. It’s the responsibility of the batter to stand up and make runs for the team, and live up to the expectations of everyone in the team and team management,” added Jwala.
With Jaiswal making a very smooth transition to international cricket, which bodes well for him and the Indian team, Jwala now wishes to see something which he had said to the youngster as a kid. “When he was a small boy, I told him at that time, ‘I will be happy if you play more than 31 Test matches’. I am very good friends with Wasim Jaffer, and practised as well as worked alongside him.”
“So, I said to Yashasvi that time, ‘If you make more Test runs and play more matches than Wasim, somewhere I will feel happy’. Now, he’s on the path to do that and I do feel very happy about how Yashasvi’s career is shaping.”
In coming years, the Visakhapatnam Test could stand as a pivotal moment in Jaiswal’s growth as a Test batter, where he stood head and shoulders above everyone. Despite being the youngest batter in the team, he demonstrated the maturity of a seasoned player by adeptly adapting to what the situations demanded.