India vs England, 3rd Test: Yashasvi Jaiswal’s Ton of Fire and Ice

India's Yashasvi Jaiswal celebrates his century on the third day of the third cricket test match between England and India in Rajkot, India, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

India’s Yashasvi Jaiswal celebrates his century on the third day of the third cricket test match between England and India in Rajkot, India, Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

After a watchful start, Yashasvi Jaiswal blazed to his third Test hundred to put India in control of the Rajkot Test.

Tom Hartley was ready to bowl and little did he know that the 24th over of the Indian innings was going to be a momentum-changing one. Yashasvi Jaiswal was batting on 29 off 64 balls and accumulated his runs with a very cautious approach.

Fourth delivery of the over, Jaiswal swept one with authority to the ropes and was lining up for a cut next ball but the delivery turned back sharply after pitching and the puff of dust was probably the first sign of the pitch behaving differently. Jaiswal figured, waited a couple of overs more before just teeing off in the 27th over. Six, four, four off James Anderson and the leading run-getter in the series never looked back.

The left-hander switched the beast mode on, kept finding a boundary almost every over and made a mockery of England spinners Hartley and Rehan Ahmed. Runs began to flow for the hosts and Jaiswal collected his next 50 off just 30 deliveries. England kept trying different field placements, there was the odd one which got an extra turn and bounce from the surface but nothing affected Jaiswal as he continued to score at a brisk clip.

Ben Stokes & Co. were clearly rattled by the onslaught and Shubman Gill continued to be a silent observer in the partnership where the bulk of the scoring was done by the opener. Gill was 20 when his partner was batting on 35.

For the next few overs, all Gill would do was give strike to his partner, turn his head in directions which Jaiswal hit the ball and then congratulate his younger teammate for a cracking hundred.

Even before the ball could cross the boundary ropes in the 39th over of the innings bowled by Mark Wood, Jaiswal took the helmet off and was in mid-air as the entire dressing room stood up and applauded a phenomenal effort. A loud “come on” followed the jump in the air and then the gloves came off as he broke into his signature celebration.

Shortly after the hundred, Jaiswal started feeling some discomfort in the lower back region, possibly spasms, and the on-field treatment didn’t ease the pain. The management wasn’t willing to take any chances with their in-form opener and he retired hurt at the end of the 44th over. There were loud cheers as he walked back to the changing room and even opposition coach Brendon McCullum was applauding the unbeaten 104 off just 133 balls.

Right from the start, Jaiswal operated with a lot of clarity in two contrasting phases of his innings. The approach was very tight, assured and solid early on before he started playing his shots and showcased the big-hitting range with sweeps, reverse-sweeps and very precise footwork.

‘Superstar in the making’

At the press conference after the day’s play, Mohammed Siraj, who stole the show with the ball earlier in the day, was all praise for Jaiswal and said the opener is riding high on confidence.

“He is playing with a lot of confidence and is not looking back. Wo aage hi dekh raha hai and bahut confidence se batting kar raha hai. Honestly, I didn’t see much of his innings today as I was receiving a massage and will see when I go from here,” says Siraj.

For England opener Ben Duckett, who smashed a 151-ball 153, Jaiswal is “a superstar in the making”.

“He is a superstar in the making and it feels good to see other teams also play attacking and aggressive style of cricket in Test matches,” says Duckett.

Still early days but Jaiswal has been absolute class in the series so far. From his reading of the situation to assessing the conditions to knowing when to step on the gas, it doesn’t look like this has been his 7th Test for the country. India would hope he continues to bat in similar fashion on Day 4 and do something which is very much possible now – bat England out of the game.

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