Gujarat Titans’ Yash Dayal in action against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Ahmedabad, May 15, 2023 (Courtesy: BCCI)
WE HAD WRITTEN this in hope a month ago. Honestly, we weren’t sure. More so after we heard that he had lost weight and might not feature in the rest of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He did. And how. More than Mohammed Shami and Shubman Gill, who are established stars, it was pleasing to see Yash Dayal step up in the Gujarat Titans’ emphatic win over Sunrisers Hyderabad. To embrace the challenge and come up successful. That’s what sport is. It pushes you. Tests you. Breaks you at times. But also gives you an opportunity to come back. Script your story. Dayal did that recently, and this should make him stronger in future. He has seen the lows. Now, it can only get better.
Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes, Yash Dayal.
Broad, after being hit for six sixes by Yuvraj Singh in the T20 World Cup in 2007, came back to become one of England’s best fast bowlers of all time. Stokes went a step further. Hardened by the Carlos Brathwaite encounter in the 2016 World T20 final, he helped England win multiple World Cups and is considered one of the greatest all-rounders of his time.
Yes, Dayal is still a youngster. He has little pedigree compared to the more illustrious names mentioned. He is no Broad. But what he had to do was absorb the setback and come back stronger. He did just that. Ashish Nehra, the Gujarat Titans coach, considers him a great prospect and was instrumental in picking him for a whopping ₹3.2 crore at the auction. Many, including myself, were a tad surprised when the bid went as high for someone who hadn’t played much first-class cricket. But for young Dayal, it was indeed a transformative moment. A good IPL performance last year pushed him towards more glory.
It was all going well for him until the Rinku Singh moment changed it all. While the world celebrated Rinku, Dayal was left to ponder how it all happened. This is what sport is all about. As we said, it pushes and challenges you. Even breaks you, if you aren’t strong enough. And if Yash wasn’t able to stand up and face this setback, he would have been lost. Now, it’s different. Over the course of four overs on the night of May 15, he took giant strides towards becoming a better cricketer in the years to come.
If the auction was tumultuous, the Rinku moment was torture. That he has now earned crores as a young man and can take care of his family is a huge achievement for anyone. Dayal isn’t an exception. But he also knows that it is all because of his cricket, and that’s where the Rinku moment would have hurt.
IPL makes you a hero overnight and a fallen hero soon after. But then, it offers you another opportunity. That’s why it is the brand it is now. The Dayal story isn’t unique. Rather, it is the norm in IPL, making it India’s most valued sport property
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Just moments after the auction, he had said, “I have added pace in the last few months. Earlier, I used to bowl in the early-130s [kmph]. Now, I am touching 140km/h consistently. If I can swing the ball at this pace, I am confident I will be able to do well for my team.”
That’s what he wasn’t able to do in the final over against Kolkata Knight Riders. Losing his length while trying to bowl yorkers and then coming under pressure, things just happened before Yash could wrest control back. And that’s where Nehra became very important in the changing room. And Hardik Pandya. Yash had grown up watching Nehra, and his presence must have helped him.
This is what Yash had said about Nehra in the immediate aftermath of the auction. “Having him as head coach is great because he has seen it all as a player and also as a coach. As a left-arm fast bowler, he was one of the best ever for India. I am much looking forward to learning from him and improving my skills.” From the ₹3.2-crore bid to being hit for five sixes, young Dayal had seen it all. Or, so many thought before he stepped up last night.
How he reacted to the auction and to the bid was clear evidence of how he needed protection in the days ahead. He isn’t Broad or Stokes yet, and that’s something to remember. Mental health is a concern, and he was indeed on the cusp.
Here’s Dayal for you after the auction. “On Day One, my name did not come up and I was hoping it will come at some point around early afternoon the next day,” he said. “Finally, when our lot was up for auction, I have to confess that I was nervous. The two previous names went unsold and I was thinking if I wasn’t picked up by anyone, it was all over for me. I was with a friend then and had spoken to my parents before the auction. And when the bid started going up, I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t sure if it was real. I can’t describe to you the joy and must say that it wasn’t something I had expected. My world had changed and when I called my parents soon after, they were in tears. It seemed all the hard work I had put in had worked for me.”
Dayal just needed to be told that it is okay to fail. Everyone does. Yes, it is hard when millions are watching, but that is what sport is all about. On the night of May 15, when he ran in and picked up a wicket, the same people started applauding again
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He will still be emotional, but this is emotion of a very different kind. It was acute disappointment after the Rinku moment. That has changed dramatically. And this is where the comeback really starts. Sachin Tendulkar was bowled by Dilhara Fernando for a duck at the 2007 World Cup and had wanted to give it all up. Even the greatest found it challenging. Dayal just needed to be told that it is okay to fail. Everyone does. Yes, it is hard when millions are watching, but that is what sport is all about. On the night of May 15, when he ran in and picked up a wicket, the same people started applauding again.
That’s what IPL is all about. It is about aspiration and fulfilling dreams. It makes you a hero overnight, and a fallen hero soon after. But then, it offers you another opportunity. That’s why it is the brand it is now, capturing our imagination for two straight months every year. The Dayal story isn’t unique.
Rather, it is the norm in IPL, making it India’s most valued sport property. More strength to the young man.
Dayal has been through the worst. It’s now time for him to see the sun shine again, and rise.