'I will get an opportunity to talk about my game with big stars like Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jos Buttler.'
'I hope to learn a few things from them and I am confident of doing well,' says the top-scorer in the Under-19 World Cup who will play for the Rajasthan Royals this IPL.
Yashasvi Jaiswal is one of the most sought after young players in the country after his exploits in the ICC Under-19 World Cup.
The left-handed opener set the tournament afire with his exploits with the bat. He finished as the top-scorer in the World Cup with 400 runs in six matches at an average of 133, with a century and four fifties.
Even before the World Cup, Yashasvi was taking huge strides on the Indian domestic scene and age group cricket. The 18 year old made everyone sit up and take notice when he smashed 203 runs from 154 balls for Mumbai against Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 50 overs tournament.
It was no surprise when Rajasthan Royals paid a hefty Rs 2.4 crore (Rs 24 million) to sign him up for this year's IPL.
It was not smooth sailing for the youngster when he first came to Mumbai seven years ago. Ready to do anything to just get a chance to play cricket, Yashasvi had a horror few years in the city as he lived in a tent at the Azad Maidan and was forced to sell street food to meet his daily expenses.
"There was no electricity, no clean water, no fan while sleeping. There were no toilets, it was difficult for me to stay, but I used to tell myself 'What is important for me is cricket and I can face every situation for it'," Yashasvi tells Harish Kotian/Rediff.com.
A chance encounter with Jwala Singh, who runs a cricket academy in Mumbai, proved the turning point in Yashasvi's life and career.
Not only did Singh hone Yashasvi's cricketing skills, he also took him away from the tent at Azad Maidan and made him stay at his home in Santacruz, north west Mumbai.
Yashasvi prefers not to look back at the dark days as he sets his eyes on a bright future in cricket and eagerly looks forward to making a mark in the IPL.
How was it playing for India at the Under-19 World Cup?
It was a special feeling to play for India at the Under-19 World Cup and I enjoyed my time throughout the tournament.
The experience was very good, the wickets were different, I got a chance to play against different bowlers.
In a tournament like the World Cup, there is pressure in every match, but I enjoyed it a lot.
VIDEO: Harish Kotian/Rediff.com
Things didn't come easy for you as it was very difficult at the start when you took up cricket. So it must have been satisfying to finally get to play for India at the Under-19 level.
For me, this is just the start, I still have a long way to go. I know I have to put in a lot of hard work and continue to develop my game.
Were you nervous at any point during the World Cup like the first match or in the final?
I was quite nervous before I played the first ball in the opening match of the World Cup. That was a special moment for me when I played the first ball. It was really nice to get a chance to play in a tournament like the World Cup. It was a proud moment for me to represent India.
You scored a lot of runs in the World Cup (400 runs overall and 88 in the final), including a century against Pakistan and four fifties. Which was your favourite knock in the World Cup?
I think my innings against Pakistan was the favourite. I batted really well and I enjoyed a lot during that innings.
How does it feel to do well in your first big tournament?
It does feel good and I am hoping to carry on the momentum in the future and continue to score runs.
Tell us about the hardships you faced in your career.
I would not want to dwell too much on the past now, I am looking at the future now.
Yes, the times were difficult, but even then I was enjoying it. I was enjoying every day. It was difficult no doubt, but at that point I was thinking as to what is important for me now and the answer was cricket.
And what more could I have asked for? I was playing cricket and that was the best thing to happen to me.
I can do anything for cricket and I can leave anything for cricket. So just the thought of playing cricket helped me in those tough times.
Was it difficult leaving your parents and coming to Mumbai at such a young age?
It was really a difficult decision to leave my parents because I was very young.
It was not easy to live in a tent in Azad Maidan because there was no electricity, no clean water, no fan while sleeping.
There were no toilets, it was very difficult for me to stay, but I used to tell myself 'What is important for me is cricket and I can face every situation for it'.
Was there a moment during those frustrating times when you thought of leaving everything and going back home?
Sometimes there was nothing happening in my life and I was quite low.
Then I met Jwala Sir. It was a life changing day for me and I will never forget that day. That day, my life changed completely and things fell in place for me.
What will playing in the IPL mean for you?
It is a really good opportunity to play with top international players. I will get an opportunity to talk about my game with big stars like Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jos Buttler. I hope to learn a few things from them and I am confident of doing well.
What do you plan to do with the Rs 2.4 crore Rajasthan Royals paid for you?
I don't have any plans. Jwala Sir will manage everything. I just want to focus on my cricket because now it is really important for me.
Having done well at the Under-19 level for India, what is your target going forward?
I will just focus on my process. I believe in the process. If I perform well, I do well, wherever I am playing, things will come easily.
How has life has changed in the last few weeks? Everybody recognises you now and seeks autographs.
I am feeling good about that. But you know, it's a temporary thing. I need to focus on what I did (playing cricket). It is only because of cricket that everything has happened.
How happy were your parents? They came to Mumbai to meet you after you returned from the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa.
They were quite happy. They always tell me that I need to work harder and this is not the end. They tell me to keep pushing ahead and follow my dreams.
Your mother wants you to put on more weight.
She is worried that I have become really thin. I told her that I went there and just slept and that is why I have become a little thin.
She is like any other mother who always feel that her children are not eating properly and become thin.
Will your parents watch you during the IPL?
I really want them to come and see me play during the IPL. I will try and arrange for them to come to the stadium and watch me play.