Kolkata: It will be quite a windfall of sorts for Ishan Kishan, who made the cut for the Indian team in T20 World Cup on Wednesday evening, to have his idol Mahendra Singh Dhoni by his side in his first bow in the showpiece.
While it’s only natural to idolise the legendary performer, especially for a young wicketkeeper-batsman, but Ishan’s connection with ‘MSD’ goes a little deeper than that. The 23-year-old is currently the captain of Dhoni’s state Jharkhand and the latter has seen him from close quarters ever since Ishan made his first class debut as a teenager in Ranji Trophy in 2014.
Recalling Ishan’s association with the man who had put his state’s capital Ranchi in the cricketing map of the world, Uttam Mazumdar - the childhood coach of Ishan said: ‘‘Mahi has seen him grow from his childhood days as Ishan has played for Jharkhand under both his captaincy and mentorship. Once when Ishan scored a mammoth innings of 273 against Delhi at the Ranji in 2016-2017, an innings which was studded with 14 sixes, Dhoni told me that I would be surprised if he doesn’t play for India in the next two years.’’
Speaking to Gulf News over phone from Patna, Ishan’s hometown where he took first steps in the game in his coaching camp, Mazumdar felt it would be a wonderful opportunity for his protege to pick Dhoni’s brains in the biggest stage of the game. ‘‘Both Dhoni and Ishan are already in the UAE to prepare for their respective IPL teams and it should give the latter an advantage in his preparation for his first major senior ICC event. There are so many things to learn from MS like the finer points of keeping on the UAE wickets to keeping one’s cool during batting,’’ said Mazumdar.
It had been an eventful year so far for Ishan, who had shot into the limelight after leading the Indian team in Under-19 World Cup in 2016 in Dhaka, where they finished as runners-up. His erstwhile teammate Rishabh Pant left him behind in making his mark in international cricket, while Ishan’s initial years in the Mumbai Indians line-up were poor.
In 2018, Ishan played 14 games and seven the following season, when he just managed 101 runs with an average of 16.83. The IPL 2020 in the UAE proved a turning point in his career when he looked a different player with some exhilarating strokeplay and finished the league as the fifth highest scorer with 516 runs - a performance which played it’s part in him getting the break in the T20 series at home against England earlier this year. Ishan betrayed no nerves as he hammered a half-century on debut while he picked up another one against Sri Lanka while touring with Shikhar Dhawan’s team in July.
However, there is a question mark over his consistency persists as sometimes, he has fallen to impetuous strokes right on the back of a sparkling innings. This is something which he has to control if the youngster has to establish his credentials as an opener along with Rohit Sharma for a left-right combination or lower down the order and Majzumdar says he has often spoken to his ward about it.
‘‘With him travelling for a better part of this year, it’s often not possible to explain something hands-on but I have advised him not to take the undue pressure to prove himself after one good innings. The change that I see in him is that he had been thinking a lot more about his game and started to do yoga to control his mind - which has made him a lot more focused now,’’ Mazumdar added.