Ishan Kishan :
Ishan Kishan has been the talk of the town over the last fortnight. Let us head to Bengaluru on a Saturday evening at Hotel ITC Gardenia where all the drama unfolded. It was almost over 4 hours into the auctions and Mumbai Indians haven’t made a single purchase yet. They did make a half-hearted attempt for Trent Boult and Quinton de Kock but pulled out from the race as the bid crossed the ₹7 crores mark.
The moment Charu Sharma announced Kishan’s name from the rostrum, the team owner Akash Ambani’s eyes glittered up and raised the paddle within the next instant. There was a mad scramble across the auction hall as teams drew into a bidding war with each other. Despite a late effort by Sunrisers Hyderabad to poach the Ranchi local, MI stood its ground and was able to retain its services. Kishan ended up being the most expensive buy of the auction at ₹15.5 cr.
Since then, Kishan has endured a torrid time in the recently concluded T20 series versus West Indies. He opened the innings in all of those games and registered scores of 35, 2, 34 at a strike rate of 85.54. He struggled to get going and found it hard to clear the boundaries. Eyebrows were raised whether ‘MI did the right thing to break the bank for him?’
It’s important to note that Kishan is a ‘confidence’ player -A player who does well in a comfortable environment and has the necessary backing from the captain and the team management. The following quotes from Rohit Sharma after the first T20I supports this theory:
“We just want to make sure that we give him confidence as to what he needs to do in that middle period. When someone like Virat (Kohli) was batting at the other end, his job was to rotate and look to find that odd boundary. We got off to a flier and it was just about rotating the strike.”
“I thought with Ishan, it is just about getting him the game time. Wearing blue and playing for India, there is too much pressure. We want to make sure he doesn’t go in with too much pressure around him so it is our job to make sure that whenever he steps in, he is quite comfortable.”
Kishan has faced similar struggles at MI in the 2019 and 2021 seasons respectively, where he was dropped midseason for meager returns with the bat. Kishan’s struggle vs spin in middle overs is well documented. He has a strike rate of 126.25 vs spin between IPL 2018–2021 whenever he came in to bat at no. 4.
In 2020 when Rohit was ruled out for four games due to a hamstring injury, Kishan got the opportunity to open the innings alongside de Kock. This opened the floodgates for him, as in those four innings, he produced a whopping 202 runs at a strike rate of 145.32 and remained unbeaten in two of those innings.
What remained more impressive is that he scored at a strike rate of 139.28 vs spin. In IPL 2021 when de Kock’s laggard approach upfront put pressure on the already rusty and out-of-touch middle order of MI, Kishan was drafted into the playing XI instead of the South African keeper in the penultimate game vs Rajasthan Royals.
Chasing a paltry target of 90, the Paltans had a negative net run rate and had to make sure they wrap up the game as soon as possible to improve the NRR and help their prospects of making it to the playoffs. Kishan set the stage alight as he raced to his maiden fifty of the season within 25 balls.
In the final game of the season vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kishan gave his franchise a much-needed quick-fire start and scored — 84(32) which gave his franchise a glimmer of hope of making it to the playoffs. Although MI eventually missed out on a playoff berth, it did give them the blueprint going into the mega auctions — ‘Kishan or Bust’.
It is too early to conclude that Kishan should be axed from the Indian T20 squad. A consistent run of games and clarity in roles has been the fulcrum of Rahul Dravid’s coaching principles. Therefore, it is expected that Kishan will be given a longer rope in the build-up to T20 World Cup in Australia. With around 30 T20I left including the Sri Lanka series followed by the IPL, it is time for Kishan to prove his naysayers wrong and book the flight ticket to Australia.
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Author : Chaitanya Shetty