Back after a break: Yashasvi Jaiswal ready to shine in the second half | Crickit
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Back after a break: Yashasvi Jaiswal ready to shine in the second half

By, Mumbai
Apr 23, 2024 09:03 PM IST

The coaches at RR’s High Performance Centre, which is led by Zubin Bharucha, had anticipated the opener's struggles early this season

After the high of the Test series against England, Yashasvi Jaiswal was expected to fire in the IPL as well. Especially after his breakout season last year had seen him hammer 625 runs at an average of 48.08 (strike rate 163.61 runs). But what followed came as a surprise. Instead of dominating, he seemed lost. A series of low scores followed and everyone was wondering what had suddenly gone wrong.

Rajasthan Royals' Yashasvi Jaiswal celebrates after scoring a century (100 runs) during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match (AFP)
Rajasthan Royals' Yashasvi Jaiswal celebrates after scoring a century (100 runs) during the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match (AFP)

Coming into Monday’s game against Mumbai Indians, his eighth match of the season he had scored a total of 129 runs at an average of 17.28. He had failed to make it out of the Powerplay six times out of seven.

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The experts were saying it was just a matter of time, but with the T20 World Cup, he needed to find form and he needed to find it now.

The selectors, as it is, are in bit of a dilemma with Virat Kohli hitting top form, Rishabh Pant making a strong comeback and KL Rahul among the runs. They are all contenders for the top-order along with captain Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Tilak Varma.

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But just in time for the World Cup, the Royals' opening batter has again proved his worth as he made a return to form with an excellent 104* off 60 at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur to end a sequence of low scores.

His overall strike rate against Mumbi Indians touched 173.33, but it was a well-paced innings, allowing himself the time, in terms of both the number of balls and getting his timing, to meet the ball right. It was a mental thing. In his earlier innings, he was too eager to dominate. On Monday, as his captain Sanju Samson said, Jaiswal was calm and composed. The Rajasthan Royals’ team management were also calm about his poor returns. “Jaiswal is full of confidence. We knew it was a matter of one game. He was calm, composed,” said Samson.

The coaches at RR’s High Performance Centre, which is led by Zubin Bharucha, had anticipated the early struggle for Jaiswal this season. The reason was the toll that the opening batter’s performances in the Test series against England had taken on him.

After his run of 700-plus runs in the five Tests, the player was dealing with mental and physical exhaustion. From that to say take a few days off and start playing another format was just a bridge too far. To make it tough for himself, Yashasvi was trying too hard as his strike rate of 145.78 showed. When you do that, you are always rushing rather than allowing the game to come to you.

The approach that he had in the 2023 IPL season where he got 625 runs eluded him. In fact, it is understood, before the tournament itself both Jaiswal and RR’s High Performance Director, Bharucha, in their internal discussions had acknowledged they have to focus mainly on the second half of the IPL.

Jaiswal’s struggle in the first half as been a learning experience for the RR management so that they are better prepared the next time their player faces a similar challenge of switching formats immediately after a draining competition.

On Monday, Jaiswal was back to his best and found the rhythm that works for him in T20s. He had a strike rate of 110 in the first 10 balls of his innings before stepping up his scoring rate to get to his half-century in 30 balls. He reached his century off his 59th ball to help chase down MI’s total of 179 with nine wickets and eight balls to spare.

He chose the right match to allay doubts over his form by getting the runs in front of India captain and MI opener Rohit Sharma, who was fielding in the ring for most of the match. The relief on his face was there to see as he walked back chatting with his India captain.

For Jaiswal it was about keeping a clear mind. "I was just trying to make sure that I was watching the ball properly and playing my cricketing shots, which I think I did today," Jaiswal told the official broadcaster after the game. "I am trying to keep doing what I do. Some days are tough, and some days are good. I was just playing -- that is all. I didn't have anything in my mind."

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