India men's national cricket team's Asian Games debut got off to a rousing start on early Tuesday (October 3, 2023) morning in a seemingly quaint Hangzhou setting with Yashasvi Jaiswal toying with Nepal bowlers. Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was tasked to lead a young Indian team at the 2023 Asian Games, won the toss and opted to bat in the first quarter-final of the men's cricket competition. Then, Jaiswal took over. (Match Blog | Scorecard | Full Coverage | Cricket News)
And how! A watchful start to the innings, then a flurry of boundaries -- both along the ground and over the rope. By the 10th over, India were 104/1 with Jaiswal unbeaten on 73 off 36, laced with six fours and five sixes.
Even as India kept losing quick wickets -- those of skipper Gaikwad, holing out at deep wicket after a measured 23-ball 25, and Tilak Varma, losing his leg stump for 2 off 10 and Jitesh Sharma, to a leading edge for 5 off 4 -- Jaiswal continued with charge.
Jaiswal, the 21-year-old Rajasthan Royals opener, raced to his maiden T20I century in quick time, reaching the landmark with a sumptuous reverse scoop six in the 16th over, almost. Replays showed the ball landing just inside the rope. The very next delivery, off the fifth, he took a nonchalant single to square leg and repeated the celebration. 100 in 48 balls with the help of eight fours and seven sixes at a strike rate of 208.33.
In the process, Jaiswal also became the youngest Indian batter to score a T20I ton.
Class was there so was the conviction. It looked like Jaiswal was giving legitimacy to Asian Games cricket. Continuing his charge, the Suriya-born left-handed batter stepped outside to take on a full toss, only to miscue it. Caught at short third man by a diving Abinash Bohara, off Airee. Shivam Dube and Rinku Singh were there to give the finishing touches.
Jaiswal made his India debut in a Test match (five-day match) against the West Indies in July. In a break-out year in international cricket, the youngster also made his T20I debut during the tour, in August. In two Tests, he has scored 266 runs with one century. He now has 232 in six T20Is. He's yet to play in the ODIs (50 overs).
When Nepal thrashed Mongolia by 273 runs in the 2023 Asian Games men's cricket competition opener, the lopsided nature of the contest raised eyebrows. The fixture was followed by more one-sided affairs as the so-called Associate Teams fought it out for three available quarter-final spots. Then, entered India.
Initial signs suggested that Nepal and the Asian Games itself weren't quite yet ready for the intensity brought by the young crop of Indian cricketers.