Is Jayant Yadav the younger version of Ravichandran Ashwin?
This has been the talk of the town at Mohali after the Haryana all-rounder notched up his maiden Test half-century batting at number nine, and played a crucial role to get India a decisive lead of 134 runs on the third day of the third Test match.
Jayant, in so many ways, looks like the younger version of his senior off-spin partner in the team.
When Ben Stokes got rid of Ashwin for 70, England would have hoped to bundle out India within 350.
But there was Jayant in their way.
Two sweetly-time boundaries off James Anderson got him going. Especially the straight drive to the fence looked like an exact replica of the shot which Ashwin played against the same bowler on Day Two at the beginning of his knock.
Jayant’s elegant punches through the off-side, his wristy flicks through mid-wicket, his leaning forward to defend against the spinners look so much Ashwin-like.
So far in the series, Jayant has batted thrice and has impressed on all three occasions. The 26-year-old comes across one of those no-nonsense type of cricketer who values his wicket despite batting not being his primary attribute. However, with the depth in the batting having become an important aspect of international cricket now-a-days, Jayant’s batting prowess is a welcome addition to the Indian Test set-up.
Also, what is most impressive about Jayant is — he knows the art of batting with the tail.
At Vizag, in the second innings, he shared a 42-run stand with Mohammed Shami for the final wicket. Here in Mohali, the youngster added 33 runs with Umesh Yadav for the tenth wickets. At the first-class level, Jayant holds a record of sharing a 392-run partnership for the eighth wicket with Amit Mishra against a strong Karnataka bowling attack in 2012, his second season in the domestic circuit. It is the highest eighth-wicket stand in Ranji Trophy. The off-spinner got a career best 211 in that innings.
Thus, Jayant knows when to trust and when to shield a tailender.
During the second session on Monday, when Alastair Cook used his off-spinner Gareth Batty for an extended spell from around the wicket and set up a Leg Before Wicket trap for tailender Umesh, Jayant quite wisely kept him off strike for most of that period. But later when someone like Ben Stokes – against whom Umesh looked comfortable – was bowling, he was ready to take the single on the first delivery of the over.
So, Jayant seems to be a very good reader of a match situation and looks like he has the maturity of a proper batsman. Interestingly, when Ashwin first came into the Test team, we used to relate these attributes with him.
However, these are early days for Jayant and he needs to remember bowling off-spin is his primary responsibility. It will be his wicket-taking ability which will get him a place in the team, not his batting and so far with five scalps in three innings (uncompleted), Jayant has done no harm to his credentials as a bowler.
Like Ashwin, if he also gets his priorities right, Jayant won’t be known as the new Ashwin, he will be known as the first Jayant Yadav.
Originally published at cricwizz.com