By the third day of the Duleep Trophy 2022 final, West Zone had already been written off. Thanks to Baba Indrajith’s spectacular 118 and contributions from Manish Pandey (48) and Krishnappa Gowtham (43), South Zone gained the upper hand over their finalists with a 57-run first-innings lead.
The Hanuma Vihari-led side needed just a draw to lay their hands on the coveted cup. The pressure was certainly mounting on West Zone, who were in dire need of a miracle to change their fortunes in the most important clash of the tournament.
Ajinkya Rahane & Co. were in need of a savior who could pull them out of a deep hole. A 20-year-old boy from Uttar Pradesh’s Suriya village, who had already made an impression with the willow in Mumbai cricket’s arena, was up for the challenge.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, who departed cheaply in the first innings for 1, was on a rescue mission and the only advice he could think of following – play a long innings with small goals and just stay at the crease without attempting risky shots – was one given to him by his captain Ajinkya Rahane in the past.
The Mumbai lad left no stone unturned in executing the aforementioned philosophy when West Zone’s second innings kicked off. There were great timed half volleys, rich wristy flicks, sumptuous cover drives, cheeky scoops, intriguing late cut-shots, and crackling crunches in the carnage the South Zone bowlers suffered.
A bowling attack that boasted the likes of Basil Thampi, T Ravi Teja, Krishnappa Gowtham, and R Sai Kishore was made to look impotent against the left-handed batter.
Jaiswal smashed Gowtham for a boundary, a flat shot just past mid-off to notch up a breathtaking double-ton. His innings not only blew away the opposition but was testament to the batting prowess of the lanky player in the Indian domestic circuit.
The youngster finished on 265 off 323 and his thunderous innings was laced with 30 fours and four sixes at a strike rate of 82.04. The southpaw combined some crucial stands with Priyank Panchal (110), Shreyas Iyer (169) and (164) to help his side take a lead of 528 runs in the second innings.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda after West Zone’s crushing 294-run triumph in the Duleep Trophy final, Jwala Singh, Jaiswal's coach, lavished praise on the youngster for showing strong character in a big match. Singh said:
“I think it's a very strong character that he is showing because the team was needing this kind of innings. They were down in the first innings in the final. Because of his attacking cricket, it was not like he played so many balls, he played near the strike rate of 70. Because of this, the other team’s shoulders went down. West Zone managed to win this match and I am happy for him."
Jaiswal accumulated 497 runs in three innings of the Duleep Trophy 2022 at an average of 99.40 to finish the tournament as the highest run-scorer. South Zone's Rohan Kunnummal was second on the list with 344 runs at 86.
Jwala Singh stated that Jaiswal has made massive strides by finishing ahead of the senior Indian players in the tournament. He said:
“Being (ahead of) a lot of senior players like Shreyas Iyer, Ajinkya Rahane, and Hanuma Vihari (who) are regular players on the Indian side, being the highest run-getter of the match and the tournament is very pleasing for us.”
Yashasvi Jaiswal hit 3 centuries in a row in Ranji Trophy 2022 knockout stage
Apart from finishing the Duleep Trophy on a remarkable note, Jaiswal put on a similar performance in the 2022 Ranji Trophy where Mumbai ended up as runners-up to first-time winners Madhya Pradesh. Jaiswal slammed three centuries in a row during the knockout stage of India’s premium domestic tournament.
Jaiswal scored 100 and 181 against Uttar Pradesh, the state in which he was born in 2001, as Mumbai cruised into the final of the Ranji Trophy 2022. Although the match ended in a draw, the 213-run lead in the first innings was enough for the side to book another final.
While talking about the young Mumbai lad’s chances of finding a place at higher levels in the game, Jaiswal's coach believes the selectors should take his recent red-ball ascendancy in domestic competitions into consideration. Jwala Singh said:
“Since 2019, he is consistently doing well in domestic cricket and was the highest run-getter in the U19 World Cup. He was also the youngest batter to score a double century in ODIs (List A) and now the last five centuries. I think this performance needs to be taken into note, and I think as a player, he is doing what he can.”
“I hope the selectors are watching him and whenever they will feel he is prepared to play for India they will give him a chance. I think he should be promoted in the next steps in any of the teams (including India A) where he gets the opportunity to prove (his mettle) at a higher level."
Jaiswal was awarded the Player of the Match award in the Duleep Trophy final. This achievement, though, was marred by him being sent off the pitch by West Zone captain Rahane for disciplinary reasons. However, Jwala Singh is confident that his ward will learn from the incident and gain more experience.