Have no plans to retire for now: Shoaib Malik
1 May 2021
It was the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy season. Jharkhand’s young boy Ishan Kishan had just led India U19 in the World Cup that year. Though they had lost the final to West Indies, the overall performance of the junior Indian team was much appreciated.
There is a certain annoying pattern in Indian cricket that when a player leads his team to the winning triumph especially at the U19 level, he is much more celebrated than the ones who have at least captained the side to the finals. Ishan’s story was along those lines.
The left-hander just missed out on leading India to their fourth title by a whisker. There was a joke going around before the final that the left-handed batsman who dons the jersey number 18 would turn out to be the next Virat Kohli.
But eventually and unfortunately, the only common factor between him and the 2008 U19 WC winning captain was the number on his shirt.
While Kohli’s India lifted the junior World Cup then and the flamboyant batsman got the pathway to the Indian team soon after, Ishan was still left to prove his mettle. He though had a bit of luck on his side.
The Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals had been axed from the IPL for two years and Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions had replaced them during the 2016 and 2017 editions.
Since the two sides were building the teams from scratch, it gave a lot of youngsters an opportunity to showcase their talent in the cash-rich league. Kishan had left back the sorrows of the final’s defeat and was up for a new challenge.
The Jharkhand wicket-keeper batsman was picked up by the Gujarat-based franchise in 2016 and was with the side for both seasons. The debut season was a dismal one for Ishan as he only managed to compile 42 runs in 5 matches but had a better run in the 2017 season where he accumulated 277 runs after being capped 11 times.
Interestingly, the tournament that converts prodigies into mainstays had almost nothing to offer to someone who had been training under someone like Rahul Dravid, especially in his first season.
Nevertheless, the amount of cricket that is played in India, the young lads are never really short of chances to unleash the abilities they possess and Ishan had the country’s most important domestic tournament to prove his worth. But an over-enthusiastic Kishan was certainly failing to manifest his calibre.
He only had one hundred in the four matches in which featured for Jharkhand before the criticism from the pundits and media surrounded him.
If reports are to be believed, the gloveman even got a bit of scolding from seniors but as they say at times harsh words turn fortunes for you. This exactly happened with Ishan Kishan.
Jharkhand was up against Delhi in Thiruvananthapuram when he unfolded one of the finest knocks in the history of Indian domestic cricket in the 2016-17 season.
They were struggling at 80/4 when Kishan came into bat and steadied the ship for his side to notch his best First-class score of 273 runs. The match ended in a draw but the left-hander’s efforts were much lauded.
Ishan’s capability and talent was now being talked about and it took Mumbai Indians just one opportunity to buy out the youngster in the 2018 auctions.
After completing a two-year ban, CSK and RR returned back and which meant that Gujarat Lions and RPS would be dissolved with players of the respective sides available to go under the hammer. MI spent an enormous amount of money on Ishan and bought him for a sum of Rs 6.2 crore.
The Jharkhand batsman has been with the team since 2018 and a lot has changed in his life on the professional front. He has played some crucial and brilliant knocks for the Mumbai franchise and has made his India debut as well.
In fact, Ishan amassed over 500 runs in the 2020 edition in the 14 matches that he played, notched up a half-century in T20Is for India. Surely some checkpoints in a brief career.
Mumbai Indians nurture the young crop
The Rohit Sharma-led side Mumbai Indians is known for its nature of nurturing the youngsters who join their camp. Whether it has been Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya or for that matter Rahul Chahar, the MI is certainly the best team to get yourself fostered.
They don’t just make strategies or team combinations for winning the matches but have a certain set pattern of dealing with the kids in the side and a visual of similar sorts had popped up from the documentary ‘Cricket Fever: Mumbai Indians’ where Mahela Jayawardene is seen talking to Ishan Kishan and telling him about his duties behind the wickets.
The former Sri Lanka captain is seen telling the wicket-keeper that he needs to be the ‘bubbly’ character and jump around and also talks about the consistency which is a cliche in itself.
Don’t give up so soon, MI
From money to time, Mumbai Indians have certainly invested a lot in Ishan Kishan. From a naughty and over-energetic kid, Kishan has now turned into a responsible cricketer who knows how important it is for him to perform for himself and his side.
But it seems as if things have gone vice-versa as MI took just five matches to bench Ishan in the recently-halted IPL 2021.
Though he wasn’t really having a great time in the middle but after putting so much work behind a player and get him to a level where he is able enough to win matches single-handedly, he has been asked to warm the benches especially when he is India international now.
Now the question arises whether MI will let Ishan go in the next year’s mega auction or will they persist with him considering the lack of Indian wicket-keeper batsmen they have.
With only Quinton de Kock and Aditya Tare in the squad, it won’t be a brave call from MI to leave Ishan in the coming auctions. While there are only four slots for the overseas players available in a team, it would be an excessive workload on the South African cricketer.
Apart from Quinton, MI have Aditya Tare who can be considered for a couple of matches but his age is an important factor that might keep him away from the scheme of selection. Tare is already 33.
The Jharkhand cricketer might have had a lean patch in the last few outings for MI but his ability to score brisk runs and decent wicket-keeping skills can make MI persist with him for the next few editions.
Adding to this is another major factor. MI generally build a team that stays for a longer period of time and the management doesn’t need to rejig plans in every edition.
Looking at the future and Rohit’s age, MI need someone who might be seen as a future captain. This might sound an early or probably a very early call but the fact of the matter is he has led the India U19 team to the finals of the World Cup and also has the experience of leading his state team despite the big names in the ranks.
And if MI decide to let off Ishan, this would also come as a boon for him because the BCCI had earlier announced that the IPL 2022 would be a 10-team affair. Barring MI, the other seven teams are pretty sorted with the wicket-keeping positions while the new franchises would be seeking to have someone who has a good IPL as well as domestic experience to hold the post.
Well, it might sound harsh on Mumbai Indians but they made an aggressive call on dropping Kishan just after five appearances.
What can be the alternate? Jayawardene just needs to replicate what he did some 2-3 years back. Ask Ishan to have a one-to-one chat with him and give him the confidence that there is a reason why he is playing the glorious game at this level and tell him that he belongs here.
The IPL 2021 has been suspended for now after there was a surge in COVID-19 cases within the franchise teams. We hope Ishan finds his place back in the XI if and when this edition of the cash-rich league resumes.