Yashasvi Jaiswal: 'I don't want to always score in one way. I want to have options to score in all situations'

The Rajasthan Royals opener talks about all the work he has put into his game, and what he has learnt from his time at the franchise

Yashasvi Jaiswal is in the most prolific phase of his career with staggering numbers in all three formats. He struck six centuries, including two double-hundreds, and averaged 83 in the last Indian first-class season, scored two more hundreds in the domestic 50-over competition, and is now among the top scorers in the IPL, fresh of the back of his first T20 century.
What kind of a space are you in right now, having scored double-centuries in first-class cricket last season and now your first IPL century?
No doubt it gives a lot of confidence and satisfaction. I am proud of myself, I'm happy that I've got something from whatever work I've put in. It's a good feeling to go out there and score runs and enjoy the moment, because that's what we play for, to win, to enjoy, to feel [good].
What was it like to get the IPL century on your home ground, Wankhede Stadium?
It was a great feeling and I was really emotional, but at the same time I was energetic also. I just thanked God and I remember my parents whenever I make centuries. It was really emotional because it was my first really good score in Mumbai, and [it's] from where I belong. It's so close to me - Mumbai, the Mumbai team, Mumbai cricket. It was 100% special for me. I always wanted to score a hundred in IPL, and I still want to [score more].
Were your parents there at the ground?
No, not for this one. They came for the last one, in Jaipur. It was the first match my entire family came to watch. I was really happy that they came. It was a really proud moment for me and my family.
You're scoring more boundaries and getting bigger scores now. What have you done differently this season?
Just hard work. Simple. I have put in a lot and not just in the last year. I have been practising all these shots for the last three years, working on my mindset with Zubin Bharucha sir [strategy, development and performance director at Rajasthan Royals]. We have worked a lot together. We had an amazing time, we had ups and downs, we had failures and success but still kept going and doing the same things we had been doing for a long time.
You also went to one of the Royals' academies to train. How much time did you spend there?
I went to four different places - Guwahati, Rajasthan, Mumbai and the [Royals] academy. We knew that this time we were going to play in different grounds, environments, weather and wickets. Zubin sir wanted me to get an idea of all those places - the wicket, the bounce and everything. It really helped because this year we have been travelling and playing in different places. For me, it's the first such year to do that, since the last two-three years we played under Covid procedures. This is something new and really special for me and I really like playing like this.
What things did you work on to prepare for these different conditions?
To be consistent [on the field], I need to be consistent outside. How I prepare, how I leave [the ball], how I recover, and how I'm dealing with injuries, everything plays a role because I have been playing a lot of cricket. I should be really careful about what I'm eating and how much I'm sleeping and training. Everything is important. All the small aspects of mental stability, mental strength. I always work on my mind a lot, because everyone says it's a mental game.
We've seen you hit Ravindra Jadeja and Piyush Chawla for sixes off reverse sweeps, and you haven't been dismissed by a spinner this IPL yet. What exactly did you do to improve your game against spin?
I just play the ball. I have practised a lot for different fields. I know where I can score big runs and where I should take more chances. It's just skill and a tactics game in cricket. I will keep searching for different shots and trying different things all the time.
Kumar Sangakkara said at a press conference that you averaged a little low against pace earlier. How did you tackle that? Did you speak to any of the coaches about it?
I just practise a lot. That's the simple way to improve any skills because if I have good practice, confidence comes from it.
How do you practise for a bowler like Jofra Archer? You hit him for three sixes during your century.
I don't think I prepare for a bowler, I just prepare for that ball, and I need to prepare for that situation, that bounce, that speed. That's all I do. I just need to be really clear in my mind that if it's a bad ball, I need to punish it, and if it's a good ball, I need to respect it. Or [think of] how I can convert it into a single or a boundary or a six. That's all I think about - the ball, where I can play it, which shot I can play. I don't see anything else.
How do you train for all that in the nets?
There are a lot of things we can do, like I practise a lot to play swing, because it helps me play swing in a match. Then I water cement pitches and practise with a rubber ball, trying different shots. I practise a lot with the new ball for bouncers and swinging balls. How much practice I do with the new ball really helps me because I need to play the new ball all the time [in matches]. Earlier I used to practise with the rubber ball more, but now it's a combination of practice sessions - sometimes with the synthetic ball, sometimes plastic, sometimes against the sidearm, sometimes throwdowns. It's not like I'll do just one thing. And I don't want to be in that situation where I will score in one way; I want to prepare myself in such a way that I have options to score in all situations for my team.
You said in an interview that you also worked to build your strength.
It's something I keep working on. I work on my running. While fielding, I do sprints. I try to maintain my intensity, I work a lot on my strength sessions, recovery, food. All of it makes me really focused.
Did you focus on your strength particularly ahead of this IPL? Because you've already hit 18 sixes in nine innings - the most you've hit in an IPL season.
I've worked on my body overall. Since I open the batting, I mostly need to know how to time the ball, but if I'm batting towards the end, I should be able to hit as well. So I'm working on myself for the last few overs as well, because the ball gets older, the field settings change and you have to bat accordingly. The game keeps changing, so after seeing and assessing the scenarios, I try to prepare myself for all such situations.
You must spend a lot of time with your opening partner, Jos Buttler. What have you learnt the most from him?
He is a really nice and open person. Whatever you ask him, he will explain it to you really nicely and patiently. He is an amazing person. Like a brother, you can go ask him anything and he will guide you properly.
Is there anything specific that he told you that has stuck with you, like about boundary-hitting or playing long T20 innings, since he has so many T20 centuries?
Not just him, many people have told me that intent is very important in T20 cricket. Your intent and tempo should always remain high. That's what I try to do. There's only one thing on my mind and that is what my team needs and I need to play like that. That's in all formats, even in Tests, one-dayers or T20s.
As a T20 opener, how do you maintain that intent once the powerplay ends?
It's just mindset. It's just like you switch on the light, switch off the light. It's simple. I don't make it complicated. If I know I need to do it, I need to do it.
You apparently train so much that you need to be pulled out of the nets at the end of the day. Is that true?
You can ask anyone throughout India about that (laughs). As a habit, I practise so much that I have to be taken out of the nets. I enjoy it. I don't do it to show anything to anyone, I play for my own enjoyment. I know that the more I practise, the closer I will get to achieving my dreams. That's the only thing that I trust - that I'm on the right path. I believe in this, in myself, in my game, that's what I aim for, and the rest will happen as it has to happen.
There's some tape on you left hand. Is that a niggle or a result of excessive training?
Niggles are always around. If I play 2000-odd balls, all this will happen. It's a human body after all, these kind of things and pains will be there. I'm used to it. I like this pain; if it's paining and I'm doing well, I'm happy.
You have excelled in all formats now. Your technique and solid base to score runs are talked about by former players and coaches. Did it come naturally to you, or is it something you had to work on?
I won't say it's natural. I have developed it gradually over time. It's not like you come and play and you're so talented and it will happen like that. I have worked on each and every kind of ball, I have worked on different types of shots - it's literally hard work.
It's something Sangakkara also said - that it's not just talent, it's something you've had to work on a lot.
I'm also very grateful that in this amazing franchise, they do everything for me. I can go and practise and train, I can consult a mental coach or S&C [strength and conditioning] or a physio… everything. Especially Zubin sir, what he's done for me is incredible. There are no words to explain that. Wherever I went to train, he was with me.
Like, when I finished playing the domestic season, I went to the [Royals] academy. Then I went to play matches, then I practised in Mumbai, in Guwahati, in Rajasthan. Somewhere or the other, God will reward me for that.
You had a very prolific red-ball season as well. What did you do differently to excel in that format?
It's a totally different game, mindset. You have to play for four days, bat the whole day, field for 100-150 overs after batting. And it's not like the intensity reduces while fielding. It has to remain high at this level. I have got the experience [to know] about what I can do, what I cannot, how I should prepare, how I should not. I keep learning. I really want to learn all the time. I'm curious, asking seniors all the questions I can ask to get an idea about different situations, grounds, wickets. As much information I can get, that would be amazing for my mind and my cricket.

Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo