Ishan Kishan
India’s Ishan Kishan plays a pull shot during the second Twenty20 international cricket match against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 14, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

The young know no fear. Ishan Kishan is the new fearless kid on the block. At 22, he’s made a sensational international debut with an aggressive fifty that shaped India’s victory in the second T20 game against England.

Cricket watchers sure weren’t surprised. A former Under-19 India skipper, Kishan had produced several scintillating knocks in the UAE when Mumbai Indians raced to victory in the Indian Premier League last year. He didn’t make the playing XI initially. An injury to Saurabh Tiwary provided Kishan with the chance, and the youngster from Jharkand cemented his place in the team with some sterling displays.

The IPL displays are always breathtakingly attractive. But to replicate that on the international stage speaks abundantly of his courage and conviction. It isn’t easy to do. Take the case of Sanju Samson of the Rajasthan Royals. His IPL record is enviable, and his brutal assault on bowlers is reminiscent of Gordon Greenidge, the former West Indian opener. Sadly, Samson’s international scores do not reflect his talent.

That puts into perspective the importance of Kishan’s innings in Ahmedabad. The left-hander has proved that he can perform in the cauldron of international cricket. But it’s foolhardy to expect Kishan to score consistently. For consistency has never been a companion of strokemakers. So he may not rack up too many big scores in a row, but India will win when he’s on a song. Like on Sunday night (March 14, 2021) at Motera.

Former India opener Virender Sehwag was worried for Kishan. He says Team India is no longer patient. They demand sustained performance even from match-winners. But that fear may be misplaced. We have had Rishabh Pant, who has struggled for form. The persistence has paid off, and he’s authored some improbable victories for India. That should remind selectors of the value of such players.

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Kishan’s memorable debut also points to the depth of talent in the Indian squad. His Mumbai Indians’ teammate Suryakumar Yadav too made his international debut on the same day, but he didn’t get a chance to bat. Prithvi Shaw has been running riot in the Vijay Hazare trophy Tournament. So is Devdutt Padikkal. Will Sikhar Dhawan get another chance? Not so soon, I guess.

It’s not just the batsmen. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar’s return from injury has beefed up the pace pack. Mohammed Shami is still recuperating. Jasprit Bumrah too is missing. Where will Ravindra Jadeja fit in when he returns. Washington Sundar’s been very impressive.

The surfeit of talent makes for a good selection headache. With such an array of talent, India’s cricket future looks bright. Can they win the T20 World Cup? For that, talent is not enough. A sustained team effort matters.