Jaiswal: From homeless to IPL hero

·4-min read
Yashasvi Jaiswal used to sell street food to make ends meet after moving to Mumbai as a child
Yashasvi Jaiswal used to sell street food to make ends meet after moving to Mumbai as a child

He once lived in tents and sold street food to pursue his cricketing dream. Now, sizzling talent Yashasvi Jaiswal is the toast of the Indian Premier League.

On Thursday, the 21-year-old continued his remarkable season by smashing the fastest fifty in IPL history off just 13 balls on his way to 98 not out in Rajasthan Royals' win over Kolkata Knight Riders.

It was Jaiswal's fourth half-century of this year's tournament.

"Wow this is some of the best batting I've seen in a while. What a talent," Indian star batsman Virat Kohli wrote on Instagram.

Last month, Jaiswal also plundered 124 off 62 balls in front of a huge crowd in Mumbai, the city he moved to as a child from a poor family in Uttar Pradesh.

"He has got real talent. The kind of domestic season he has had, he has taken that form into the IPL. Good for him, good for Indian cricket and good for RR as well," India's all-format captain Rohit Sharma said.

Jaiswal is in the hunt to finish the IPL campaign as leading run-scorer, sitting just one run behind South African veteran Faf du Plessis with 575 runs from 12 matches.

His strike rate of 167.15 is lower only than Suryakumar Yadav's in the top 15 run-scorers this season.

- Pani puri to IPL -

Jaiswal moved to Mumbai -- without his parents -- when he was just 11.

"I used to sleep in a dairy and then stayed at my uncle's place but it wasn't big enough and he asked me to find a different place," Jaiswal told AFP in an interview in 2020.

"I then started to stay in a tent near Azad Maidan (a Mumbai sports ground) and would play cricket there during the day."

"I sold pani puri at night, to help earn some money for food," he said, referring to a popular street snack.

Jaiswal also did some cricket scoring and fetched balls in club games to help finance his career before being noticed by coach Jwala Singh, who became the boy's legal guardian.

"I saw in Yashasvi a younger me and thought God is giving me another chance to play well in my second innings of life," Singh, who played state-level cricket, told AFP in 2020.

Jaiswal won a place in the Mumbai state team in 2019 and became the youngest batsman, at 17 years and 292 days, to score a domestic one-day double century.

His big break came when he was snapped up by Rajasthan for $338,000 in the 2019 IPL auction.

In 2020, Jaiswal was the leading scorer for India's under-19 team, and player of the tournament at that year's Under-19 World Cup.

- Losing cause -

He had to bide his time before becoming a Rajasthan regular, scoring three fifties across the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

But this year he has formed a fearsome opening pair with England white-ball captain Jos Buttler.

His sparkling hundred against Mumbai Indians was in a losing cause, but the victory target was all that prevented him notching a second IPL ton against KKR, as Rajasthan eased to a nine-wicket win with almost seven overs to spare on Thursday.

"I always have it in my heart to go out and do well," Jaiswal said.

"It's not like everything happened right but I try... I'm learning to play till the end and win it for the team."

Jaiswal is yet to play for India but an international call-up appears to be just a matter of time.

He boasts impressive statistics in all formats, including an average of 80.21 in first-class cricket after racking up nine hundreds in his first 15 games.

"This year he has taken his game to a new level," Rohit said.

"I asked him where all that power is coming from because last year I didn't see so many sixes and he was timing it so nicely. He says 'I have been spending a lot of my time in the gym'."

Thursday's victory pushed Rajasthan into third in the table.

If Jaiswal can continue his remarkable form and take the Royals to a first IPL title since the inaugural event in 2008, he could yet force his way into the India reckoning for the one-day World Cup to be played on home soil later this year.