‘Trust’ and ‘believe’ are usually cliches in the dictionaries of the increasingly media-trained cricketers across the globe.
But not for Yashasvi Jaiswal, who has the words tattooed on his forearms. He inked ‘I trust’ on his right forearm after he became the youngest player to score a double-hundred in List A cricket during Vijay Hazare Trophy 2019-20 and had ‘I believe’ etched on his left after a match-winning 41-ball 68 in his comeback inning for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022.
After a 235-ball double hundred in the Duleep Trophy final against South Zone on Friday, Jaiswal isn’t too worried about soon running out of space on his arms for more tattoos.
“I am really happy - if I score so many double-hundreds by god’s grace - to write on my body,” he said, still twitching uncomfortably with cramps after his marathon innings.
While its after-effects may linger, the unbeaten 244-ball 209 was far from laborious. The southpaw hared off the blocks against the pacers, driving with grace and not refraining from cutting – which was his undoing in the first innings. When he welcomed R. Sai Kishore – the highest wicket-taker in the tournament – with a six down the ground to notch up a 56-ball half-century, one couldn’t tell that Jaiswal was coming off scores of 0, 3 and 1.
“The last three innings I got out early because I was thinking of playing differently. I found out that on such wickets, I have to play all the shots because one good ball can get you out... With the new ball, initially it is really difficult on this wicket because there is a lot of movement off the surface. I was thinking if I dominate the bowler, then maybe he won’t bowl that ball which can get me out.”
Save for when he was dropped by wicketkeeper Ricky Bhui on 62, Jaiswal hardly looked like getting out. He unsettled bowlers by stepping out, shuffling across his stumps to ramp and playing with soft hands to cut the ball late or run it past the ‘keeper and the slip cordon by opening the face of the bat. Despite the range of his shot-making, there was a method to it all.
“There is still something in the wicket. Often you will see there is turn, there is bounce and there is seam. It depends on how you are playing and how you are thinking, that is the most important thing. All the time I was making plans – I was playing different bowlers differently. I was thinking about where I can play and what shot I can play and maybe what they are planning and how they are bowling to me. I was taking simple but brave decisions,” Jaiswal said.
“I wanted to play my shots and disturb the bowler because I didn’t want to let him settle... They tried bowling negative to me so many times but I showed my patience. But when I was aware of where he was going to bowl and how the field was set, I was playing the best shot that I could in that situation,” he added.
The Mumbai batter credited the combative ‘khadoos’ Mumbaikar attitude and West Zone skipper Ajinkya Rahane for guiding him to his second double-ton of the tournament.
“ Ajju-bhai was guiding me in a really nice way like an elder brother. He was giving me an idea of where I can play and what shot to play. Because in this match also there was a situation where I was attempting many shots and after he came, my batting changed... I told myself I need to play ‘khadoos’ like Mumbaikars – that is what we are taught when we start playing.” Jaiswal said.
The ‘khadoos’ attitude also came to the fore when Jaiswal struck 233 runs in the latter of IPL 2022 at a strike rate of over 137 and when he was the second-highest run-scorer for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy last season, scoring three hundreds and one fifty in six innings in the knockouts after being dropped for the league stage.
The 20-year-old now finds himself playing his third big final in less than four months, having tasted defeat in the IPL and Ranji Trophy finals earlier this year. However, he will trust and believe he is closer to taking his team over the line this time.