Situation ripe for Jaiswal to be what he wants to be

Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal
Rohit Sharma and Yashasvi Jaiswal (PC: MI/X)

Yashasvi Jaiswal has good memories of the USA and West Indies. He made his Test and T20I debut in the Caribbean last year. After a big hundred in his maiden Test appearance in Dominica, he belted a 51-ball 84 not out in a T20I in Lauderhill on the northern side of the Atlantic. The opener should not feel out of place when the Indian team lands in those shores for the ICC T20 World Cup next month.

However, there is a job to do before that. Eyes will be on Jaiswal in the closing stages of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Rajasthan Royals have lost three in a row after winning eight out of nine. Playoffs ensured, they are out to arrest the slump and revisit 2008. The situation is ripe for Jaiswal to get going and help his team in its quest for another title after the opening edition.

The 22-year-old has not had a dismal campaign, but with 344 runs at 31.27, he has mostly played second fiddle. Just twice has he converted starts — 104 not out and 67 — and in a team dependent on the top four, he has been the weaker link. Sanju Samson, Riyan Parag and Jos Buttler have done the bulk of scoring. With Buttler having left for England duty, expectations from Jaiswal increase.

Coming into IPL 2024 after plundering over 700 runs in five Tests against England, Jaiswal has not looked out of sorts. He went past 20 on eight occasions in 12 innings and struck the ball nicely, which is reflected in a tally of 41 fours and 13 sixes. The strike rate of 153.57 is not a problem either. It’s just that the batter has not been able to build on starts as often as he and his team would like.

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Yashasvi Jaiswal back in form for the Royals
Yashasvi Jaiswal back in form for the Royals (Source: X)

Praised for his tenacity to get big scores after getting a start in Test matches, Jaiswal’s IPL record is not as impressive. He averaged 28-odd in 23 innings in his first three seasons before coming good in 2023, when he made 625 runs at 48.08. He had a 160-plus strike rate, one century and five fifties. As IPL 2024 approaches its business end, Jaiswal is running out of time to leave his mark.

Given the heady conditions for batting this season, the spate of gigantic totals and record Powerplay heists, an opener of Jaiswal’s calibre was expected to do better. His range of shots and hunger for runs is the ideal combination on flat pitches. But, for some reason, he is way behind other openers like Virat Kohli, Travis Head, Abhishek Sharma, Phil Salt, Sunil Narine and Ruturaj Gaikwad. Not picked for the World Cup, Shubman Gill and KL Rahul also have more runs.

The good news is there is still plenty to play for. Rajasthan Royals have a minimum of three more matches. It can be four or five, depending on how they fare in the Playoffs. That’s sufficient time for Jaiswal to introspect and get his act right. He has faced enough balls, been exposed to different pitches and attacks. This understanding of what to expect should help him plan better.

It’s also that stage of the competition where the value of runs and wickets are higher if they come in a winning cause. Nothing betters performance in high-stake matches under pressure. Considering Jaiswal’s reputation, the way he has timed the ball despite not scoring big and the realisation of what he has missed out on, this is his opportunity to be what he wants to be.

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