There’s another young talent from Mumbai making waves in Indian cricket.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, 17 years old, set a world record on Thursday when he became the youngest player to score a double-century in List A (senior 50-over) cricket.
Jaiswal registered a match-winning 153-ball 203 for Mumbai against Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, India’s domestic 50-over tournament. It was a stunning knock which saw the likes of Varun Aaron and Shahbaz Nadeem being taken to the cleaners. The left-handed batsman smashed 17 fours and 12 sixes as he broke South African Alan Barrow’s record of being the youngest to score a double-hundred in the history of senior 50-over cricket.
This was also Jaiswal’s third century in five matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. And naturally, this phenomenal run has helped Jaiswal’s popularity get a significant bump.
“I’m tired of speaking with people about myself since the past few days, I’ve been getting calls non-stop,” Jaiswal told Scroll.in a day after his spotlight-grabbing innings.
For those who follow Mumbai cricket, though, Jaiswal’s consistency doesn’t come as a surprise. After playing for the state team in the age group levels, he broke into the Ranji Trophy side last year. He was selected for the India Under-19 squad earlier this year and emerged as the player of the tournament in the Asia Cup.
Jaiswal has toiled hard on the Mumbai maidans since he moved to the city from his hometown in Uttar Pradesh at a young age. From living by himself and not having money to buy food, the youngster has come a long way thanks to sheer grit and determination.
In a conversation with Scroll.in, Jaiswal reflects on his journey so far.
You’re in the middle of an incredible run of form, is there anything you’ve been working on in particular to take your game to the next level?
I’ve just been practicing really hard. I try to identify areas where I can improve. It’s important for me to focus on becoming mentally stronger each day, try to read the game better and get a deeper understanding of it. Over the past year, I’ve worked hard on my strength and fitness as well. That has helped me elevate my game. I’ve also been working on improving my strokeplay, which is helping me get easy runs now.
Who are the people you work closely with to improve your game?
Our coaches during the recent India Under-19 tour to England were very helpful. In Mumbai, Vinayak Samant sir’s advice has helped me a lot. I even speak with Wasim [Jaffer] sir if I ever need any help. We played together in the Vizzy trophy and even practice together at times. He talks to me about where I can improve and discusses the mental aspect of the game. He’s taught me how to build an innings and take the game deep.
Then, of course, there’s Jwala [Singh] sir. He has been my coach for many years, he’s always there for me in every way possible. I’ve been living with Jwala sir for about six-seven years now.
Let’s track back: what got you interested in cricket and what prompted you to switch base to Mumbai?
I’d come to Mumbai when I was really young and my parents live in my home town – Bhadohi, Uttar Pradesh. They come to visit me every now and then. There wasn’t much cricket played in my village. And I’d heard a lot about how Sachin [Tendulkar] sir and Wasim sir excelled in Mumbai. So I wanted to come here and do the same.
Once I moved here, I used to live at Azad Maidan since I didn’t have a house in the city and didn’t really know anyone. The tent I lived in didn’t have electricity or a toilet. It would get flooded during monsoons. But I enjoyed that phase of my life, too. My focus was always on playing cricket and improving my game.
My father used to play cricket. He played just for the fun of it but he played a lot. That got me hooked on to the game. Sachin sir has always been an inspiration to me as well. I’m a big fan of his. Watching him play increased my interest in cricket.
Mumbai has a rich legacy in Indian cricket with plenty of competition at all times. What are the challenges you faced as you grew through the ranks?
I have faced plenty of challenges playing cricket in Mumbai. It was a big leap for me to go from the Under-19 team to the senior one. The fitness levels and understanding of the game is much greater in the senior team. So it took me a while to get used to it. But I was ready for the challenge and was motivated to make the cut. I knew I had nothing to lose.
The biggest challenge I faced when I graduated from the Under-19 team to the senior team is the pace at which the bowlers operate. I had to work really hard at getting used to facing deliveries at 140-145 kmph. Of course, there were nervous moments as well, but I always looked at it as an opportunity.
Is there a particular goal you have in mind? Any plan you’ve charted for yourself?
There isn’t any particular role that I try to fit into in a team. I like both batting and bowling equally. My motto is to perform well at every given opportunity and take my team to victory. My performances don’t mean anything if my team loses.
I don’t have any set goal for myself. I’ll take each match as it comes and focus on the process. There’s no point in thinking about results. What has to happen, will happen. I never worry about getting selected. All that matters to me is my own performance and my team’s victory. Nothing else matters, selection will take care of itself.