MUMBAI: In times when Mumbai hasn’t had much to cheer about its cricket, a 16-year-old from the city has offered a bright ray of hope. Hailing from an extremely poor background which forced him to sleep in a club tent in the maidans and sell paani puris, Yashasvi Jaiswal grabbed the limelight when he was picked for the India Under-19 team’s tour to Sri Lanka recently for the limited overs leg.
However, after managing just 15 & 1 in the first two games, the Mumbai boy was dropped from the side. Returning for the final and deciding match of the series, the talented batsman cracked an unbeaten 114 to win his team the match and the series. It was a knock delivered under extreme pressure.
“After I was dropped post the first two games, I put in extra focus during practice sessions. I was under a little bit of pressure, but I was confident that if I get an opportunity, I will give my 100%. I’m thankful to (WV) Raman (coach for the tour) sir and the team management, who backed me for this crucial match and promoted me as an opener. I’m happy that I contributed to the team winning the series,” Jaiswal tells TOI.
Having come from a humble background, the teenaged batsman is determined to succeed in life. “Coming from a poor background is also an advantage because then, you don’t have anything to lose. Also, it makes me more determined to work harder, as I don’t have more options in life, apart of playing cricket. Cricket is my life, and I know that I can achieve my goal only by delivering good performances,” he analysis.
Speaking about his mentor and caretaker Jwala Singh, a local cricket coach who picked the youngster up from a tent and took him to his own home, Jaiswal says: “Jwala sir is everything thing to me. He has always motivated me and keeps me on my toes. He always wants me to give 100% to my cricket. I have a responsibility to achieve his dreams. He is a role model for me because he too belonged from a tough back ground, but beat the odds in life. I feel so lucky to have him as my coach and mentor. I’m nothing without him. I want to make him proud one day.”
The left-hander, who idolises Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, and Wasim Jaffer (‘I am lucky that I’m playing for Indian Oil with Jaffer sir’, he says), now wants to prove his worth in the Ranji Trophy this season. Considering that he has done well at all levels now, Jaiswal can count himself in the scheme of things of the Mumbai selectors this season. “My job is to score runs and take wickets and try to contribute for my team whichever I play. It’s up to selectors now. But if I get opportunity to play in the Ranji Trophy, I’ll give my best,” he says.
The youngster is keen on an interaction with batting great Rahul David, who’s the India under-19 coach currently, in the near future. “Rahul sir is a legend of the game. A lot of players are doing well under him. I’m looking forward to meet him and get valuable inputs which can help me improve my game. To be coached by him will be a dream come true for me,” he says.
Describing his meeting with batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who called him to his residence and gifted him a bat before he went to Sri Lanka, Jaiswal says: “Meeting Sachin sir was like a dream come true. I was lucky to meet him personally. He talked to me for around 40 minutes. He advised me to keep my focus on the game and not to think about the past or the future. ”
The upcoming batsman is eyeing the next under-19 World Cup bu knows that only good performance can take him there. “The next World Cup is a long time away now. My performance has brought me to this level. My job is to keep performing and give my best in each and every match which I play,” he says.
He is also thankful to former India skipper and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar who included him a couple of times on tours to England. “I’m thankful to Dilip sir, who took me to England when I was just 13. He was always around us to give me his valuable inputs. That trip was very good for me, as I scored a lot of runs and took a good number of wickets on it,” says the talented youngster, who also bowls useful leg spin, making him a useful all-rounder to have in a team.