IPL 2020 in UAE: Street vendor to IPL – the cricketing fairy tale of India’s Yashasvi Jaiswal

Yashasvi Jaiswal
Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

Dubai: Teenage batsman Yashasvi Jaiswal sold street food and lived in tents to pursue his cricket dream, and now he is playing with top stars in the Indian Premier League.

The 18-year-old left-hand batsman scored 400 runs in six one-day matches for India at this year’s Under-19 World Cup, but it was his IPL deal with Rajasthan Royals that turned heads.

He was snapped up by the Steve Smith-led Royals for $338,000 in the December auctions of the world’s richest Twenty20 tournament, making him the most expensive of a new crop of youngsters.

Life, though, was not always easy for Jaiswal, who hails from a small town in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh but moved to Mumbai at the age of 11 to hone his skills.

“Initially finding a place to stay (in Mumbai) was the hard part. I used to sleep in a dairy and then stayed at my uncle’s place but it wasn’t big enough and he asked me to find a different place,” Jaiswal told AFP from the United Arab Emirates, where this year’s IPL is being held.

“I then started to stay in a tent near Azad Maidan (a Mumbai sports ground) and would play cricket there during the day.

“I sold pani puri at night, to help earn some money for food,” he said, referring to a popular street snack.

Jaiswal also did some cricket scoring and worked fetching balls in club games to help finance his career.

His efforts started to pay off after he won a place in the Mumbai team and became the youngest batsman in the world, at 17 years and 292 days, to score a one-day double century.

But it was an even bigger day in the life of the Jaiswal family when the young batsman and useful leg-spinner was bought by the Royals for more than 12 times his base price of $27,000.

The Royals fielded Jaiswal in their opening game against Chennai Super Kings, but the opener scored just six runs and in his second outing, he was out for nought off Mumbai Indians quick Trent Boult.

But Jaiswal, who greeted Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni with his hands folded together in prayer, a mark of respect, before the game in Sharjah, says sharing a dressing room with big guns including Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer and Smith is a tremendous learning experience.

“It’s been great to talk to all the great players here. I’ve been talking to everyone and picking up things that would help me improve my game,” said Jaiswal.

“It has been good to have the support of skipper Steve Smith. He’s been very helpful and has been open to anything I’ve asked him. I’ve been trying to learn from his international experience.”

Jaiswal, who was player of the tournament in the U-19 World Cup in South Africa, where India were runners-up, credits coach Jwala Singh for helping him through his tough times in Mumbai.

“I started practising there (Mumbai) but my father, who runs a paint shop, said ‘Let’s go back home’, but I wanted to stay on,” said Jaiswal.

“One day after my practice I met coach Jwala and he offered to help me with my accommodation and work on my game and fitness. It helped me as a player.”

The young boy’s ambition struck a chord with Singh, who played state cricket himself but had to give up because of a lack of money and guidance.

“I saw in Yashasvi a younger me and thought God is giving me another chance to play well in my second innings of life,” Singh told AFP.

“I always believed he would play cricket at the highest level.”

As for what the future holds, Jaiswal – who, like many young Indians, idolises record-breaking batsman Sachin Tendulkar – will take it as it comes.

“My focus is to work on things I can control and not worry too much about the future.”

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MS Dhoni’s success gives extra motivation: Sanju Samson on emerging from place with ‘no cricketing history’

Ranchi is no Mumbai or Delhi when it comes to cricketing history. Seeing MS Dhoni come from a city not known for its cricket and dominate at the highest level is certainly a big motivation for people from such cities who are aspiring to achieve success at the international level, according to young wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson.

Sanju Samson, who hails from Kerala, a football-loving state, has managed to make heads turn across the globe with his natural ability.

25-year-old Samson, who is in the mix for the India wicketkeeper-role in limited-overs, has said MS Dhoni proved to be an inspiration right from his early days in international cricket. Samson’s comments come after Dhoni retired from international cricket on August 15.

“Yes, Dhoni bhai has inspired all of us from the day he came to play for India in the first match against Bangladesh and then scored that famous century against Pakistan,” Samson told Gulf News.

” His success provides extra motivation for me as he came from Ranchi to become one of the all time greats of the game while I hail from Kerala – both places no cricketing history,” he said.”

Dhoni will continue to represent Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) but his absence from the international scene puts the spotlight on the likes of Samson and Rishabh Pant who are battling for spots in the senior national team.

I am heading in the right direction: Samson

Samson played for India in January 2020, 5 years after he made his international debut. The Rajasthan Royals wicketkeeper-batsman failed to impress in the opportunities he got during the home series against Sri Lanka and in the tour of New Zealand. With Rishabh Pant also flattering to deceive, KL Rahul sealed the wicketkeeper’s role in T20Is.

However, Samson believes he is headed in the right direction and doesn’t look to replace anyone in the senior national team.

”No, I don’t think of replacing anybody, all of us are trying to win matches for the country at the end of the day. I am just focusing on ultimately playing for my country,” Samson said.

“I have had a very good season in 2019 in domestic, India A and then for India. I have worked hard for the last 8-9 years in terms of my training, game and diet.

“At this point, I have a good 10 more years of cricket left in me and I will give it my best shot. I am headed in the right direction but have miles to go.”

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