India double centurion Yashasvi Jaiswal: From homeless to Test hero

Opening batter is toast of country after stunning 209 against England in Visakhapatnam

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From being homeless and selling snacks on the streets to finance his cricketing ambitions, opener Yashasvi Jaiswal has now become the toast of India with a Test double century against England.

The 22-year-old turned an overnight 179 into his first double ton with 209 on Saturday in the second match of the high-profile series.

Jaiswal, an attacking left-hand batsman, burst into the consciousness of his cricket-mad country with a stellar showing in the Indian Premier League.

He was snapped up by Rajasthan Royals in the 2019 IPL auction and last season made one half of a fearsome opening pair with England's white-ball captain Jos Buttler, amassing 625 runs with a strike-rate of more than 163.

His 171 on his Test debut against the West Indies last year turned heads with a gruelling 387 deliveries in Dominica over more than eight hours at the crease.

His latest knock has left the cricketing world in awe of the youngster.

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen called Jaiswal “a superstar” on commentary.

“You beauty, your bat has become a magic wand,” India opener Shikhar Dhawan wrote on social media platform X. “Rewriting cricket history, one milestone at a time!” he added.

Commentator Aakash Chopra said Friday that Jaiswal's stats on converting fifties into hundreds had for the time being put him “even above Sir Don Bradman”.

Jaiswal struck his 11th first-class ton over 21 matches to single-handedly drive the innings for India, where the next best knock was 34.

He had always harboured ambitions to play for India and moved to the financial capital Mumbai to chase his dream at just 11 years old, and without his parents.

“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.

The left-handed opener rushed to his double hundred, reaching the milestone off 277 balls, and celebrated in style in front of a large Saturday morning crowd.

“I then started to stay in a tent near Azad Maidan” – a field considered the birthplace of cricket in India – “and would play cricket there during the day”.

In between he sold popular street snacks to make enough money to pay for his own meals, supplementing a side hustle in cricket scoring and ball fetching in club games.

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," said Singh, who played state-level cricket, told AFP.

Jaiswal eventually 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 stunning knock against England came from 290 deliveries, with 19 fours and seven sixes in an innings that spanned across four sessions as the young opener almost single-handedly kept India's innings together.

It was the third fastest double hundred in Tests against England, after West Indies’ Gordon Greenidge (232 balls) in 1984 and Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya (254 balls) in 1998.

He becomes the third youngest player – at 22 years 37 days – to hit a double ton for India after Sunil Gavaskar – 21 years 277 days against West Indies in 1971 – and Vinod Kambli – 21 years 32 days against England in 1993.

“I wanted to play it session by session. When they were bowling well, I just wanted to get through that spell,” Jaiswal, playing his sixth Test, said after the end of Day 1 in Visakhapatnam.

“Initially, the wicket was damp and there was spin and bounce, with a bit of seam. However, I wanted to convert the loose balls, and play till the end. I would love to double this up, and play till the end for the team.”

Updated: February 03, 2024, 9:16 AM