Against all odds: Mumbai boy set to represent India U19 sold pani puri for a living

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New Delhi | Published: July 4, 2018 11:56:08 AM

For three years, Yashasvi Jaiswal used to train hard in the morning and sleep in the tent along with the groundsmen of the club at the Azad Maidan ground in Mumbai.

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Seventeen-year-old Yashasvi Jaiswal who was selected in India Under 19 team for the Sri Lanka tour had come to Mumbai about six years ago with a dream to represent his nation one day. Just 11 at the time, Jaiswal came from a humble background and his father found it difficult to feed the family. His uncle had a house in Mumbai but it wasn’t big enough to accommodate another person. So, he requested the owners of Muslim United Club, where he was a manager, to make room for the boy so he could stay in the tent.

“This was after I was asked to leave the dairy at Kalbadevi. After playing cricket the entire day, I would get tired and go to sleep. One day, they threw out my luggage saying I do nothing, don’t help them and only sleep,” Jaiswal told The Indian Express.

For the next three years, Jaiswal used to train hard in the morning and sleep in the tent along with the groundsmen of the club at the Azad Maidan ground in Mumbai. The young middle-order batsman who was determined to make it big struggled for money in his initial days. He used to get some amount from his father occasionally but that wasn’t enough.

To make ends meet, Jaiswal started to sell pani-puri during the Ram Leela in Azad Maidan and helped sell fruits.

Despite this, there were days when he had to sleep on an empty stomach as the groundsmen with whom he shared the tent fought with each other. Without them cooking, he would drift off with just dreams lulling him to sleep.

The 17-year-old said that he used to earn well during Ram Leela but at the same time, used to pray that his teammates don’t come here. Apart from this, Jaiswal also used to play matches with older boys to earn Rs 200-300 per week.

“I always used to see boys my age bringing food or their parents had big lunches with them. As for me, it was – khana khud banao, khud khao. (make your own food, eat alone). No breakfast. Catch hold of anyone around and request them to buy breakfast,” he recalled.

Jaiswal has now shifted to a small chawl in Kadamwadi, which he calls his palace. He believes that the pressure in his early ages helped him stay strong as a cricketer. “Scoring runs is not important. I know I will score and take wickets. For me, whether I get the next meal or not, that’s important,” he added.

He was selected in the limited overs side which will tour Sri Lanka in July. The team is set to play two four-day and five one-day matches on this tour.

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