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News

Jaiswal explains hunger behind big scores

"I know how important every innings is and that's why I work hard in practice and every innings counts for me"

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
18-Feb-2024
Yashasvi Jaiswal has hit three hundreds in seven Test matches and the lowest he has been dismissed for after reaching those three figures is 171. That hunger, he says, comes from the challenges that he faced while growing up with the ambition of becoming an international cricketer.
Jaiswal moved from his hometown in Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai at the age of 13 with little more than visions of doing what he is doing right now and those early days where he sometimes spent nights at the groundsman's tents in the maidans have inculcated in him a sense that he needs to make the most of every opportunity he has.
"In India, when grow up, you work really hard for each and everything" he told the host broadcaster after helping India take a 2-1 lead over England, "Even when getting the bus you have to work really hard to get the bus. You have to work really hard to get to the train and auto[rickshaw] and everything and I have done that since my childhood and I know how important every innings is and that's why I really work hard in my [practice] sessions and every innings counts for me and for my team that is my biggest motivation to play for my country and I just make sure that whenever I'm there I need to give my 100% and then enjoy."
Jaiswal was unable to impact the game in the first innings and it seemed to inform the way he went about his work in the second. Having been dismissed for 10 in the fourth over of the game on a good batting pitch, he spent the rest of the innings watching Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja slowly grind England into the ground.
"The way Rohit bhai and Jaddu bhai played in the first innings, that motivated me a lot. Because the passion was there, the talk was there, they were really determined to play session by session and when I was inside [the dressing room] I kept thinking that when I go there I have to make it count. The way they were talking about the game, the way they motivated us, I think its incredible to see them putting a lot of effort."
Jaiswal put what he learnt to use in the second innings, absorbing the pressure of a new-ball attack led by James Anderson. India had lost Rohit early this time, so he played the shepherd's role, focusing on just being out there and preventing the opposition from getting on a roll.
"At that moment, the ball was... I was feeling that there is something in the wicket," he said of his being 35 off 73 deliveries at one point. "The ball was really hard and there was something in it and I was feeling that for me its especially important to give a good start to the team and as you've seen in the last three matches the second innings [Ollie Pope's 196 in Hyderabad, Shubman Gill's 104 in Visakhapatnam] makes a huge impact on the game and I was trying to make sure that I could play as many balls as I can. It's kind of hard, Test cricket, I guess. So I just make sure that if I'm there, I need make sure in my mind that I will give my 100%"
It wasn't long before Jaiswal got used to the conditions and the bowling. Sixty-five runs flowed in the next 49 balls, taking him to back-to-back centuries, which became back-to-back double-centuries, although by that point he was having to overcome other kinds of challenges as well.
"Suddenly I got set and I felt that I could score runs," Jaiswal said. "I have my plans where I could play all my shots and I tried to play only those shots and get that runs. After some time, my back was not really good. I didn't want to [retire] out but it was too much. The next day I didn't know how its going to start, lots of thoughts in my mind. But again when I came, I tried to give myself time and after that I felt really really good."
Jaiswal also offered a glimpse of how hard it is for a young player to stay balanced when success takes you so high and failure pushes you so low. He credited India's head coach Rahul Dravid and their batting coach Vikram Rathour for helping him deal with those things.
"As a cricketer, I always go with the emotion," he said. "Sometimes I do well and sometimes I don't. The way they come and the way they talk about cricket and all other things, I think it's been incredible and I'm really enjoying it.
"The things that they have told me, how I can think about the game, how I can read the wicket, how I can take my game as deep as I can and with that also they give me all the freedom. 'If you think that you can play that shot well, make sure you are committing to it and you're playing it'. They know that I play the sweep and the reverse sweep and they say you play, but make sure the ball is there to play.
"I always keep thinking and talk to my seniors like Rohit bhai and Rahul bhai as well about how I can prepare for the game and how I can switch my mind. I think it is really important to work on my mind and I really try to work on my mind and then I try to express myself."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo