Yashasvi Jaiswal is India’s next Test superstar, and his ascension could come sooner than you think
@Yas_Wisden 4 minute read
Yashasvi Jaiswal only turned 21 in December but he has been tipped for the very top for some time.
His is a slightly peculiar tale of incredible early-career returns, prolific whenever he has played, but with injury and circumstance limiting those opportunities. Now, with India’s top-order faltering, a rare home Test defeat seemingly on the cards, and a new World Test Championship cycle presenting a chance for a rebuild, the sense is building that the time could be nigh for Jaiswal to get a promotion.
Let’s start with his earliest efforts, those that saw him marked out right from the start. At 17, Jaiswal created headlines globally by becoming the youngest ever player to score a List A double hundred, doing so against a Jharkhand attack that featured India players Varun Aaron and Shahbaz Nadeem. Then, in December 2019, Jaiswal was subject to a substantial IPL bidding war after which he was sold to Rajasthan Royals for a whopping 2.4 crore rupees (c$290,000) despite not having played a professional T20 match.
All this came before he had got a chance in the Under 19 World Cup, and with the eyes of Indian cricket firmly upon him, Jaiswal dealt with the soaring levels of expectation with relative ease, finishing by some distance the standout batter of the 2020 tournament. He hit 114 more runs than anyone else, compiling 62, 105 not out and 88 in the knockout stages against Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh respectively – if there’s one way to generate hype as an Indian cricketer, it’s scoring a match-winning hundred against Pakistan in a global tournament. Still only 18, Jaiswal looked set to the follow the footsteps of Prithvi Shaw and Shubham Gill in making the quick jump from Under-19 cricket to the senior international set-up.
But a month after Jaiswal scored 88 in the U19 World Cup final against Bangladesh, a pandemic halted life as we knew it worldwide. His next game was his T20 debut – opening the batting with Steve Smith for Rajasthan in the 2020 IPL held in the UAE. Two single figure scores and a slow 34 saw the 18-year-old lose his place in the side and while he has been a feature in the past two IPLs, he has yet to seriously light up the tournament. His forté, at this point in his career at least, is clearly facing up to the red ball in first-class cricket.
Which makes his career arc all the more interesting. The financial necessity of putting on the IPL show meant that despite rising transmission rates in India, by hook or by crook the tournament was played one way or the other. The same could not be said of the Ranji Trophy, the national Indian first-class competition, which was not held in 2020/21. Then in 2021/22, a shoulder injury kept Jaiswal out of action until the Ranji Trophy knockouts during which he made his return to action in first-class cricket.
The hottest young talent in Indian first-class cricket had gone three and half years between his first and second first-class appearances. Jaiswal made up for lost time, reeling off hundreds in the quarter-finals and semi-finals before scoring 78 in the final.
He hasn’t looked back since. Jaiswal earned a regional call-up for West Zone for the Duleep Trophy, scoring two double hundreds in three games, before winning India A selection for the first time for a pair of games against Bangladesh A. You guessed it: he marked the occasion by scoring a century on his India A debut.
Fast forward three months, and after his latest first-class double hundred – for a Rest of India side against Madhya Paradesh, last year’s Ranji Trophy champions – Jaiswal now averages 77.32 after 15 first-class games; remarkably, he already has eight first-class centuries to his name.
Jaiswal is not alone in racking up eye-watering numbers in Indian domestic cricket. For one, his Mumbai teammate Sarfaraz Khan is similarly prolific and remains without a Test cap. But given the fragility around the India top-order in recent times, Rohit Sharma aside, the clean break that comes with a new World Test Championship cycle and Jaiswal’s relentless scoring, Jaiswal’s ascension to Test honours could come sooner than you think.