When Prithvi Shaw was picked in the Indian T20I squad for the New Zealand series at the beginning of this year, he had made a comeback to the side after 537 days. The selection was a culmination of the experts pushing his case over a couple of years, in a bid to impart fearlessness and dynamism to the Indian T20 top order.
With Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli 'resting', and KL Rahul missing out due to his wedding, it left enough room for Shaw to be picked after the aggressive opener smashed 379 against Assam in the Ranji Trophy, making headlines all over again.
Although Shaw did not get a game in the three-match series, there was a sense that he was the right man for the job and would be given an extended run sooner rather than later. However, a few months down the line, things have turned on their head, as is common in elite sports.
Let alone India, Shaw currently isn't making the cut for Delhi Capitals either in IPL 2023, despite head coach Ricky Ponting backing him publicly before the beginning of the season. The opener could manage only 47 runs from six innings at a farcical average of 7.83 and had to pay the price.
New Kid on the Block
Shaw's decline has coincided with Yashasvi Jaiswal's rise over the last month. The 21-year-old Uttar Pradesh-born left-hand batter is currently leading the run-scoring charts in IPL 2023 with 428 runs, coming at an average of 47.56. The youngster is striking at almost 160 this year with three half-centuries and the best of 124 to his name.
Jaiswal arrived in the competition in sublime form, having smashed 213 and 144 in the same match for the Rest of India, against Madhya Pradesh in the Irani Cup. He carried his form in the IPL, smoking a half-century in Rajasthan Royals' very first encounter against Hyderabad this season.
He hit another 60 against Delhi Capitals and complemented Jos Buttler beautifully – with the duo emerging as one of the most dangerous opening partnerships in the IPL, arguably only behind CSK's Devon Conway and Ruturaj Gaikwad.
Over the last couple of weeks, Jaiswal has taken his consistency to a different level altogether with scores of 44 against LSG, 47 against RCB, 77 against CSK and a breathtaking 62-ball 124 against Mumbai Indians on Sunday, 30 April.
Pulveriser in Powerplays
Jaiswal always played his attacking role in the powerplay to the tee, but has taken his explosive prowess to dizzying heights this season. (222.22) and Faf du Plessis (173.27).
From nine innings, Jaiswal has struck 227 runs from 137 deliveries in the powerplay this season at an average of 75.66, with the help of 37 fours and eight sixes.
Jaiswal smashed 41 runs off just 23 deliveries in the powerplay against Mumbai, taking on Jofra Archer who's among the best bowlers of his generation. On the other end, Jos Buttler, who has been struggling for fluency, had only managed 11 off 14 balls.
While Jaiswal has always been impressive within the first six overs, it was his power game after the fielding restrictions which was yet to develop. To his credit, the opener is showing signs of coming of age this year.
Before IPL 2023, Jaiswal had faced just 134 deliveries outside the powerplay, scoring 181 runs. This year alone, he has scored 201 runs off 131 balls after the six-over mark, at a strike rate of 153.43.
Overall, Jaiswal has the second-best strike rate for Rajasthan this season behind Dhruv Jurel. And this is when he is batting alongside Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson and Shimron Hetmyer – among the hardest hitters in world cricket.
Unfazed by Pressure
Not just in the T20 format, Jaiswal has excelled in the Ranji Trophy as well. He is, in fact, the joint fastest Indian to 1000 runs (from 13 innings) in first-class cricket, alongside the prolific Rusi Modi and Amol Muzumdar.
While he ticks the talent box in bold, another thing which is often looked at in a youngster is temperament. There too, 'YBJ' passes with flying colours, as he hardly gets fazed by the occasion.
Playing his first Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament in 2019, Jaiswal struck 564 runs from six innings at 112.80. He then went on to blast 400 runs in the Under 19 World Cup in 2020 when no one else even reached 300, ending up as the Player of the Tournament.
The highlight was his stroke-filled 105 in the high-octane semi-final clash against Pakistan – another big occasion, another Jaiswal ton.
Soon, in Blue?
Jaiswal smashed a double hundred (227) on his Duleep Trophy debut for West Zone in November 2022. He hit another double ton, a match-winning 265 in the Duleep Trophy final as well – becoming the first player to score a double century in the Duleep Trophy and the Irani Cup in the same season.
The stylish batter also belted a century (146) on his India A debut against Bangladesh.
While Jaiswal has already raced to 1845 runs from just 15 first-class matches at 80.21 – a cut above the rest – he has done his prospects no harm in domestic 50-over cricket as well, scoring 1511 runs from 32 matches at 53.96, with five centuries and seven half-centuries to emerge as a complete all-format batting prospect for Team India.
It may seem a bridge too far at the moment, but don't be surprised if the 'generational talent' Jaiswal is, actually takes guard in the India Blues come the 2024 T20 World Cup.