It’s one of those hot May afternoons in Jaipur, and Yashasvi Jaiswal is lounging by the pool at the luxurious Jai Mahal Palace, the team hotel of the Rajasthan Royals. That’s his favourite pastime. When he is not whacking sixes or sweating it out in the nets, chances are high that you’ll find Jaiswal by the poolside.
There’s a three-day break, and most players are in a mood to unwind after a gruelling first leg of the Indian Premier League. Some have gone on short getaways, while others are spending quality time with their families. But for Jaiswal, there’s no escaping from the continuous ringing of his phone. After he slammed his maiden IPL century against the Mumbai Indians on April 30, everyone — be it the media, fans, or his friends — has tried to catch hold of him.
The soft-spoken 21-year-old answers every call with a smile, listens patiently, and ensures he answers each and every question to the point. “For me, the best way to relax is going into the water and being around the pool. That’s where I spend some alone time, and I like that,” he tells Sportstar. Throughout his cricketing career, Jaiswal has deliberately stayed away from the limelight, and it was no different in the last domestic season either. While two of his contemporaries from Mumbai cricket — Prithvi Shaw and Sarfaraz Khan — were talking points with big scores, Jaiswal, true to his nature, went about his business without much ado. He started off the season with two consecutive double centuries in the Duleep Trophy, followed it up with 203 off 154 deliveries against Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and ended the season with another double ton — this time against Madhya Pradesh in the Irani Cup. And, in between those doubles, there were quite a few hundreds.
Jaiswal has carried that golden run into the IPL as well. In his fourth season with the Rajasthan Royals, Jaiswal started the tournament with three half-centuries before hammering that 62-ball 124 against the Mumbai Indians. Just like any other cricketer, Jaiswal dreams of donning the India colours soon, but he does not state the obvious. “I don’t have any long-term targets. I want to take it one step at a time and just want to win the next game for the Royals. You can say that’s my target,” Jaiswal says with a smile. But he’s just being modest. After all, India captain Rohit Sharma and the Royals’ director of cricket, Kumar Sangakkara, feel that the Mumbai-based batter, who originally hails from Uttar Pradesh, has a bright future not just with the franchise but also in international cricket.
And these are not mere conjectures. Jaiswal’s consistency has bolstered their belief. “I watched him last year; he’s now taken it to the next level. I asked him, ‘where did you get the power from?’, and he said that he’s been going to the gym. That’s good for him, India, and the Rajasthan Royals,” Rohit said. His fluent drives and delightful pulls have brought him quite close to national reckoning. Those who have followed his career are optimistic that he will break into the side — if not in all formats immediately — before the year-end. And, then, it will be about learning the art of survival at the highest level. Struggles, though, are nothing new for Jaiswal. Living on his own after his parents left Mumbai, the gritty teen weathered many a storm. At one point, he even lived in a tent on the maidans of Mumbai, which would fill with knee-deep water during the harsh monsoons. Undeterred, Jaiswal would wade through the water, armed with his kit bag, and make his way to the Azad Maidan or the Oval Maidan to chase his dreams. Those years were life lessons for the youngster. “I am mentally strong because I have seen those challenging times early on in life. Whenever I feel low or demotivated, I keep telling myself that if I can overcome those challenges, then I will be able to battle past any odds,” Jaiswal says.
Not a believer in fairytales, Jaiswal understands that nothing comes easy. For him, it was an uphill task to come so far, but he had “khud pe bharosa” (self-belief) and went on piling runs — first in inter-school tournaments, then in the Mumbai U-16 team—and eventually rattled off a century and four 50-plus scores in the U-19 World Cup in 2020. His reputation as a swashbuckling opener earned him a Rs. 2.4 crore contract with the Rajasthan Royals ahead of the 2020 season, but the nationwide lockdown during the COVID pandemic meant that Jaiswal had to wait for his chance. When the tournament finally got underway in the United Arab Emirates, he failed to impress with the limited chances that came his way. But even then, the franchise never gave up on him. With Zubin Bharucha and Sangakkara backing him to the hilt, Jaiswal slowly climbed up the ladder. “I always tried to do well every day, but then you need to be realistic and understand that it’s not possible to be the best every day. After all, no matter what you do today, tomorrow you will have to start your innings from zero. This has been my mantra, and if you can get this in your head, then you can battle through any situation,” Jaiswal says.
Contrary to the belief that franchise cricket is a difficult place to be, Jaiswal finds himself at ease in the Royals dressing room. That, he feels, has allowed him to express himself better on the field. Over the last four seasons, he’s had regular conversations with Jos Buttler, whom he now calls Jos bhai. “I have learned a lot of things from him. He told me how I should tweak a few things, which I listened to, and that advice helped me hit sixes at will,” he says, adding that even Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and Rohit have told him not to move out of his zone. “They have all told me to stick to my shots and stick to the good zone that I am currently in. I keep working on their advice and trying to get better.” And the conversations with the stars have also made him learn the value of discipline and change a few ‘chhote-chhote cheezein’ (small things).”I work more on my mental toughness. When you play a four-day game, you have to wake up early and take the team bus by 7 o’clock in the morning. If you are playing for four or five days, your body needs to be fresh. Eating healthy, getting good sleep, training on time —all these factors are important,” he says. “In IPL, it’s the opposite. Here, we stay awake until late at night and sleep in the morning, so I have the experience of both. I try to manage myself well to play in all formats.”
With quite a few of his contemporaries also in contention, it has become important to be ahead of the others, but Jaiswal is competing with himself. “I know I need to work hard and keep improving my game. The rest is not in my hands. There’s no point in thinking about things beyond my control,” he says. “I am a believer in destiny. Mere naseeb mein jo hain, woh koi nahi chhin sakta... (no one can take away what’s in my destiny).”
Latest on Sportstar
- Jabeur upset with fans reselling tickets due to women’s match in night session
- Nkunku stars as Leipzig retains German Cup with 2-0 win over Frankfurt
- Stokes downplays fitness concerns, set to bowl in Ashes
- On court of pain, Zverev rediscovers his joie de vivre in Paris
- Spectator dies from fall during River Plate match