NEW DELHI: ‘Chase your dreams, they do come true’ – the golden words came from Sachin Tendulkar after he hung up his cricketing boots in 2013. The words seem apt for Mumbai youngster Yashasvi Jaiswal when we talk about his journey. Yashasvi’s quintessential rags to riches tale, has been an inspiration for many.
pani puri seller, Yashasvi is now an IPL millionaire. He was one of the hot picks in the recently-concluded 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) Player Auction, held in Kolkata. The 17-year-old Yashasvi, who is currently in South Africa for India’s Under-19 World Cup campaign, was picked by Rajasthan Royals for a hefty sum of Rs. 2.40 crore for the 2020 IPL season.
The youngest ever to hit a double hundred in List A cricket 💯💯 Yashasvi Jaiswal AKA wonder kid, welcome to the Indi… https://t.co/fxv34HzlYf
— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) 1576757701000
“I am very happy. It’s a big opportunity for me. I will give my best,” Yashasvi told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview.
Yashasvi earned this well-deserved deal from the inaugural edition’s IPL champions due to his determination and on-field onslaughts with the willow.
In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, held in September-October 2019, Yashasvi smashed a blistering 203 off 154 balls, including 12 sixes and 17 boundaries. With this feat, he became the youngest batsman to score a double century in List A cricket. He scored a total of 564 runs in 6 matches (6 innings) at an average of 112.80, with three centuries and a fifty in the season. He also hit 49 fours and 25 sixes in his tournament.
The youngster from Suriya village in Uttar Pradesh once sold pani puri and lived in tents in Mumbai to make ends meet, but those hurdles didn’t stop this wonder kid from chasing his cricketing dreams.
“I was 11 when I came to Mumbai. My father runs a paint shop. The money wasn’t enough to make me a cricketer,” Yashasvi said.
“I used to watch cricketers play at the Azad Maidan. I used to go every day after selling
pani puris. One day I met Pappu sir there. I was requesting him for many days to give me a chance to play. One fine day, he came and said
‘tu aaj khelega’ (You will play today). He said.. if you perform well today, I will give you a tent to stay in. I was struggling for everything and it was a big opportunity for me to start my journey,” the 17-year-old said.
“Thanks to God, I performed well in that match and got the tent from Pappu sir,” he said.
“All I wanted to do was play cricket. I just wanted to spend my life on the 22 yards. Cricket is my life,” the youngster said.
“My family is very happy now. They are happy to see me grow. I always wanted to make them proud and will always do that,” a proud Yashavi told timesofindia.com.
FOLLOWING DRAVID’S MANTRA – ‘ONE BALL AT A TIME’
Ahead of the upcoming U-19 World Cup, Yashasvi got the chance to learn about the game under India’s batting legend Rahul Dravid‘s tutelage at the NCA in Bangalore. The youngster had a bag full of tips from Dravid before he departed for South Africa for the mega event.
“One ball at a time – this is the mantra I have learnt from Rahul sir. He always says treat every ball as important. Whenever I visit NCA, I meet him and tell him where I lack and what problem I am facing. He has solutions for everything. He is a great mentor. Honestly, my game has improved a lot because of his guidance,” Yashasvi said.
“He congratulated and hugged me after my call-up,” he said.
“I just want to go and perform for my country. I have worked a lot on my fitness and trained well at the NCA. I practiced and trained under Rahul sir and took a lot of tips from him. I am sure we will bring the Cup home,” the 17-year-old said.
Yashasvi is a left hander but takes inspiration from batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. Watching his batting videos closely has helped Yashasvi take his game to a different level and he wants to excel in the art of playing cover and straight drives, the way Tendulkar used to so in his career.
“I admire the god of cricket (Tendulkar). I have met him a number of times. His presence is enough to motivate you. He is an inspiration for me. I have learnt a lot from him,” Yashasvi said.
“I asked him once – ‘sir… how should I prepare myself ahead of a big game?’. He said ‘you should live in the present. Whatever happened in the last match, just leave it behind. Whether you have scored a ton or a duck, just forget and move on. The more you live in the present, your game will improve’. These words will always be etched in my mind. This thing always motivates me a lot,” he said.
“I watch his batting videos, his balance and his shot selections. I watch very closely. This also helps me a lot. After practice, I take out time to watch his batting videos. He has played on every type of wicket. Be it Australia, West Indies, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or New Zealand, he has dominated every opposition. I try to learn how he batted in different conditions and tracks,” he added.
“I generally watch his knock against Australia in the Sydney Test in 2004, when he scored a double century without playing a single cover drive. If I have to learn something from Sachin sir, I would love to learn the art of playing cover and straight drives from him,” Yashasvi said.
The pep talk from Tendulkar changed Yashasvi’s approach towards the sport.
“I enjoy my batting. I love to score as many runs as I can for my team. My ultimate aim is to bat for as long as possible,” Yashavi told timesofindia.com.
“I love to be in the present. If I have not performed well in my last match, I don’t think about that at all. I just concentrate on the matches ahead. In short – ‘one game at a time’. This is the mantra which drives me forward,” Yashasvi signed off.