As the end drew closer and a defeat seemed inevitable, the camera zoomed in on a player standing at the boundary with his hands folded in prayer. Maybe he was praying for one final chance to sneak in a victory, or maybe he was just praying to the rain Gods to stay away, still having the belief in the bowlers to strike back.
He had plenty of reason to hope for a positive result. Yashasvi Jaiswal was the standout performer for the Indian under-19 team in the recently concluded World Cup. His total of 400 runs with 4 half-centuries and a century in 6 innings earned him the Man of the Tournament award, but he would've wanted more.
Jaiswal's valiant knock of 88 in the final was proof enough of the youngster’s temperament and character. But that is likely just the start.
Humble beginnings and rise to prominence in domestic cricket
Having played on the Azad Maidan ground in Mumbai, Jaiswal's journey has been inspirational, to say the least. Fighting off a plethora of financial problems, the young left-hander rose to prominence when he scored an unbeaten 319 runs and picked up 13 wickets in school cricket.
Jaiswal was named the player of the tournament at the 2018 Under-19 Asia Cup, which India won against Bangladesh. He then made his first-class debut for Mumbai in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season, and his List-A debut in September 2019 during the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Just a month post his List-A debut, Jaiswal amassed a double hundred - 203 in a Vijay Hazare game against Jharkhand - becoming the youngest cricketer in the world to do so.
Courtesy a string of strong performances in junior cricket along with consistent showings in domestic cricket, Jaiswal was picked in the side for the ICC U-19 World Cup in South Africa.
ICC U-19 World Cup: Player of the tournament
Jaiswal played a stellar role in helping India reach the final of the Under-19 World Cup. Though his knock of 88 in the summit clash went in vain, the tournament overall was a huge breakthrough for the youngster.
Jaiswal had a dream run with the bat, capping his exploits with a sparkling hundred in the all-important semi-final clash against Pakistan. Such was Jaiswal’s consistency that there was only one game where he failed to muster a 50-plus score.
In the final game against Bangladesh, the left-hander showed immense composure after the Bangladesh bowlers started with accuracy to hold off India’s run flow in the initial stages. Jaiswal could have played a rash shot and perished, but decided to build the innings with partnerships and wait for the end to make an onslaught.
Despite faltering in his execution towards the end, the composure and temperament shown by the young Jaiswal impressed the experts and the fans alike.
Apart from his batting, the youngster has been impressive with his part-time bowling too. He has a knack of picking up crucial wickets in the middle, as was on display in the tournament.
The road ahead: Dealing with the burden of expectations
The story of a pani puri seller becoming a successful cricketer for India is sure to attract the attention of everyone, but we have seen in the past how the burden of expectations has ruined careers in international sport. The likes of Rohan Gavaskar and Unmukt Chand are prime examples of how pressure and comparisons can impact a cricketer negatively.
Though everybody would want Jaiswal to do well in his career, they must be careful not to scrutinize every single thing that the young cricketer does on a cricket pitch in the years to come. The youngster, who has been roped in by Rajasthan Royals for the IPL, needs to be given space for failures.
Superstars are not made overnight, and while Jaiswal has shown he has the ingredients to be one, he can only get there if he is allowed to work at his own pace.Published 10 Feb 2020, 19:20 IST