Kolkata: Ishan Kishan, who emerged Man of the Match on debut in the second T20 International against England, chose an unusual person the dedicate the award on Sunday night. It was the late father of his childhood coach and mentor, who passed away earlier this month - a gesture which showed that the wannabe star still has his feet on the ground.
The 22-year-old, yet another product of India’s awesome assembly line of talent from the Under-19 squads, had been like a family for Uttam Majumdar, his coach ever since Ishan accompanied his father to his camp as a five-year-old in Patna, capital of the state of Bihar. ‘‘My father, who passed away on March 4, treated him like a youngest member of the family. However, we didn’t expect that he would remember to acknowledge his passing away in such a forum,’’ said Majumdar, a former first class cricketer for Jharkhand - made famous by one Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Ishan’s abundance of natural talent would have perhaps gone unnoticed if his parents had not agreed to Majumdar taking him to Ranchi, the capital of adjacent Jharkhand, as a 12-year-old where he gradually started making his mark in age group cricket. Speaking to Gulf News during an exclusive interview over phone, Majumdar said: ‘‘With Bihar then being disaffiliated by the BCCI, the most convenient way to help him pursue his dreams was to take him to Jharkhand - an erstwhile part of Bihar. He soon started getting noticed and made his Ranji Trophy debut for Jharkhand as a 15-year-old where he played an innings of 60-odd against Assam.’’
Much like Rishabh Pant, India’s man in form who alongwith Washington Sundar, had played under Ishan’s captaincy in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, Ishan is a perfect example of the modern day, fearless Indian cricketer who have scant respect for international names after brushing shoulders with them in the IPL. The way he clobbered Tom Curran for the first of his four sixes, during his 32-ball 54, was a reflection of his thought process as a batsman.
‘‘See, he is a natural talent and a fearless cricketer. If he gets the first ball on the spot, Ishan will not hesitate to go for it. I have never advised him to temper his style to pursue higher goals - all I told him was to be absolutely clear in his mind about what he wants to do. With the kind of bat-speed that he is blessed with, he is bound to get the big sixes if he commits himself fully to a shot so there should be no half-measures,’’ explained Majumdar.
Ishan, who was roped in by Mumbai Indians in 2018 as a back-up wicketkeeper-batsman, had an up-and-down stint with them till the 2020 edition in the UAE when he was the topscorer for the five-time champions with an aggregate of 516 runs with a highest score of 99 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. He also carried his good form in the just-concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy, the 50-overs BCCI tournament, where he scored a hurricane 173 in Madhya Pradesh - apart from effecting seven dismissals behind the stumps.
Did he prepare himself any better for the 2020-21 season, when there was no cricket in India for nearly nine months due to the Coronavirus pandemic? Majumdar, who now lives in Noida, said: ‘‘We were in touch online (Ishan’s parental home is in Patna) and I asked him use the time in yoga and meditation to calm down the mind. I will be glad if it had helped him in anyway.’’
Going forward, Majumdar hopes that his ward will get a few more chances as the Indian team management are on an experiment mode with an eye on the T20 World Cup this year. ‘‘When we spoke, I told him to treat the next innings as a new beginning. He may have had a good debut, but it’s only his job to well to vindicate the faith the management has shown on him,’’ he added.
The third T20I, with the series poised at 1-1, will be held on Tuesday.