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From Sleeping in Tents to Starring in Asia Cup Triumph - Yashasvi Jaiswal's Incredible Journey

Arjit Dabas |Cricketnext | Updated: October 8, 2018, 8:30 AM IST
From Sleeping in Tents to Starring in Asia Cup Triumph - Yashasvi Jaiswal's Incredible Journey

A file photo of Yashasvi with coach Jwala Singh. (Cricketnext)

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India’s triumph at the U-19 Asia Cup was built in no small measure by opening batsman Yashasvi Jaiswal. Not only did Jaiswal top score in the final, making a composed 85 to set the platform for India’s big score, he was consistent throughout the tournament, with 318 runs at an average of 79.50.

Jaiswal has been making waves since breaking into the U-19 squad, and his has been a journey of great sacrifice and hard work, that has enabled him to accomplish his dream of wearing an Indian jersey.

"All he ever wanted to do was play cricket, you couldn't take the bat out of his hand even if you wanted. When he was ten, he shifted to Mumbai to live with his uncle," says mother Kanchan Jaiswal, a housewife. His father Bhupendra Jaiswal owns a small hardware shop in his local village Bhadohi.

Young Yasahasvi was in for a rude shock when he first came to Mumbai. Travelling every day from Dadar to Azaad Maidan meant he could hardly concentrate on cricket as the time on the road took a heavy toll. That's when he decided to shift base and started living in a dairy at Kalbadevi, where he promised menial help in return for accommodation. But with cricket sapping out most of his energy, Jaiswal could hardly contribute and one day came back to see his luggage thrown out of the room.

With nowhere to go, he found a benefactor in Imran from the Muslim United club. Imran offered him a tent to stay in at Azaad Maidaan, allowing a dream to take shape before it was shattered.

"We told him to come back but he said that he will return to the village only when he comes a player, he was happy to stay in the tent,” says his mother. “Main maidaan mein hi rahuga toh sab kuch aasan hoga, subah uthte hi mere saamne cricket hota hai, (If I Stay at the ground then everything will be easy, as soon as I wake up I see cricket in front of me) he used to tell me."

However, Yashasvi was making halting progress at best as he struggled to get any recognition, until local coach Jwala Singh spotted him in the nets.

"I was just standing behind one of the nets and it was a tricky wicket to bat on,” recalls Singh. “All batsmen were struggling but when Yashasvi came in, he started hitting the ball cleanly. I was really impressed and immediately talked to him."

The left-hander talked to Singh and told him that he was on the verge of quitting cricket because of lack of opportunities.

"I wanted to help him because his story was very similar to mine, even I came from UP to Mumbai to play cricket so I know the kind of struggle he faced. He was living in a tent and staying with the groundsmen & local gardeners. I told him that I will provide you with everything and will take you under my wing," says Singh.

Jaiswal soon moved and started staying with Singh. "When we started training, one thing I realised was that he was very scared. He was scared of failure and getting out early. In fact, he refused to play Shield matches until I talked and assured him that I will back you, no matter what. It (Mental) was an aspect I worked on personally," adds Singh.

Jaiswal went onto play the famous Haris Shield and soon found himself in the Limca Book of Records after scoring an unbeaten 319 and registering bowling figures of 13/99 - a record for most runs and wickets in a school cricket match.

"He has scored 52 centuries and has more than 200 wickets, I don't think I have seen anyone with such an incredible record," says Singh.

Almost like a second father, Singh was also given the power of attorney by Jaiswal's parents where they made him his guardian and also the man responsible for all the decisions. Soon, the southpaw was announced in the Mumbai U-16 squad before making it to the India U-19 team. This, though, is only the beginning and Singh - who has also coached Prithvi Shaw - says he wants to see his pupil play for India.

"I am 100% sure he has what it takes to play for India,” says Singh. “It is important that he keeps on working hard and forgets his previous achievements. You have to think one step at a time and results will follow, he needs to work on his fitness and carry on with the work he has been doing. Mental strength is also important and that is something which differentiates a good player from an excellent one, my hope is that after such performances in the Asia Cup, he will be selected for Mumbai in the upcoming Ranji season."

The U-19 Asia Cup is a significant milestone for this impressive young man, who has already shown that he has the gumption to beat long odds. Yashasvi Jaiswal is a name you will surely hear more often in the near future.
First Published: October 8, 2018, 8:15 AM IST
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