India U-19 opener Yashasvi Jaiswal revealed a piece of special advice received from legendary Sachin Tendulkar that has helped him dominate bowling attacks throughout his career as he approached the Sunday's (February 9) big finale against Bangladesh after topping the tournament run-charts.
Tendulkar, as well as former India Test cricketer and domestic veteran Wasim Jaffer, Yashasvi says, have been his heroes while progressing through the ranks.
"He and Sachin sir are my idols. Wasim sir keeps telling me how to build an innings," TOI quoted the 18-year-old Mumbai left-hand batsman as saying. "Since he's played in South Africa, he gave me tips on how to tackle the pace and bounce on the quick wickets here. Sachin sir gave me valuable advice, saying, 'Every bowler will give you a clue about what he's going to bowl next. You've to concentrate and catch that clue'."
He has also had an able mentor and guiding light in the current NCA director, the great Rahul Dravid. "I keep asking him a lot of questions," Yashasvi said. "I asked him how to bat when the team is under huge pressure. He gave me simple advice: 'Just focus on the next ball very, very hard'."
Yashasvi looked at the sky and roared hard as he finished off the semi-final against Pakistan after scoring a brilliant hundred. "Being a frontline batsman, I was feeling the pressure a bit before that game. When I and (fellow opener) Divyansh (Saxena) were batting, they were sledging us a lot," he said.
"However, we were determined to win the game without losing a wicket, and we were so happy to do that and go to the final."
There was also the satisfaction of having converted his half-century into a big score. "Before that innings, I had scored three fifties but wasn't carrying on after that. Before the semifinal, Jwala sir (mentor, coach and father figure) told me to break my innings into two parts."
"Once I'd scored my fifty, I was supposed to think that I'm now batting on zero. That really helped me break that barrier," he said.
"When I called Jwala sir (in December) after getting selected in the World Cup squad, he was not very excited about it. He said he will be happy if I became the highest run-scorer of the U-19 World Cup and win the tournament for India. I'm happy to have almost fulfilled that promise," added Yashasvi, who has had a storied journey of struggle reaching this far.
(Inputs from TOI)