Yashasvi Jaiswal masters the gloom in the Indian camp
A double century is there for the taking, but the real challenge is for the hosts to prolong the innings
It took one magical innings from Yashasvi Jaiswal to lift all the gloom and uncertainty in the Indian camp on Friday, 2 February.
Any element of doubt—over the defeat in the first Test, no Virat Kohli to partner with or injuries to key players—was swept aside by the 22-year-old Mumbaikar with an unbeaten knock of 179, which advertised real character and a maturity beyond his years.
When did one last see an Indian batter, playing only his sixth Test, reach his second century with a massive six? And that too, after falling for 80 in the first Test due to a lapse in concentration against part-timer Joe Root. Social media went into a tizzy soon after the Mumbai cricketer reached three figures, with one of the best quips coming from IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore on their X handle: 'Nervous Nineties, what’s that?'
It was only Act I of what would follow through the rest of the day.
While the rest of the Indian batting order again failed to build on their good start, to lose six wickets by end of play, Jaiswal hardly put a foot wrong. There were flowing drives in front of the wicket while time and again, he made the England spin quartet of Tim Hartley, Sohaib Bashir, Rehan Ahmed and Root look ordinary on a surface where batting became a lot easier in the post-lunch session.
‘’I was just batting session by session, and made sure that if they were playing well I play out that spell,’’ Jaiswal told the broadcasters after the day’s play was done, also admitting that he would be looking to keep his date with a double century.
It will be a just reward for all his hard work on the first day; but from India’s perspective, the prerogative will be to ensure they continue to bat for as long as they can rather than fritter away starts like an Axar Patel or K.S. Bharat.
A refreshing aspect of Jaiswal’s art seems to be his penchant for playing the long innings. His debut century against the West Indies in Dominica last year yielded an unhurried 171 on a sluggish surface, while not too many will remember that he had once entered the record books as the youngest player in the world (17 years 292 days) to score a double hundred in 50-overs cricket, including List A and ODIs.
He broke the record with a blistering 203 off 154 balls in a Vijay Hazare Trophy against Jharkhand in 2019, an innings which didn’t go unnoticed by the IPL spotters when he was roped in by Rajasthan Royals.
The last season had seen him mature with a prolific IPL season as well as a breakthrough in international cricket — and the onus will be now on him to carry on with the good work!