From bullock cart to flying jet – Ishan Kishan’s intriguing century

After a dull start to his innings, Ishan Kishan shifted his gears all of a sudden to smash a match-winning century that helped India C clinch the Deodhar Trophy against India B in the final.

Ishan Kishan (L) shared a 210-run opening stand with Ajinkya Rahane.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

For the first 10 overs of his opening partnership with Ajinkya Rahane, in the Deodhar Trophy final at the Ferozeshah Kotla here, Ishan Kishan was uncharacteristically subdued. Rahane was timing the ball well but Kishan was slow and scratchy; leaves and defensive prods were aplenty.

Knowing Rahane was timing the ball well against fast bowlers at the start, Kishan played second fiddle. Jaydev Unadkat nearly had him leg-before-wicket in the 12th over.

When Rahane was riding the crest, batting on 40 off 47 deliveries, Kishan had taken 31 deliveries to score six runs. In the next five overs, the scenario had changed; Kishan had completed his half-century, while Rahane still needed two more runs to get to his own landmark.

The strategy, initially, was to play out the opening fast bowlers. “When we were batting initially the wicket was not that good. It was pretty messy and moisture was also there. All we were talking in the middle of the pitch was that if we bat for 10 overs, maybe we can contribute good runs when spinners were bowling. That was the plan and we executed it in a pretty good way,” he revealed after the contest.

By the 14th over, Kishan had made his intent clear. Stepping down the track, he deposited a delivery from offspinner K. Gowtham down the ground for six, before slapping a short delivery for a disdainful boundary.

In the next over, he punished left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, hitting a six through cow corner this time. Nadeem nearly had his revenge by trapping him leg-before in the next over, but it turned out to be a no-ball.

Deodhar Trophy final: Match Report

Kishan celebrated the reprieve by unleashing the first slog-sweep of his innings, for another six, and turned on the fifth gear. The rest of his innings was a blur; whenever he got the chance against the spinners, he played his trademark slap, the reverse-sweep, the cut, the inside-out stroke and the slog sweep. Fireworks were out before Diwali, and the sizeable crowd was in raptures.

His score had ballooned to 114 before India B finally saw the back of him, Unadkat dismissing him lbw. Rahane, who also scored a century eventually, had by then been relegated to a sideshow. Eighty of Kishan’s runs were scored via fours and sixes – highlighting his hitting capabilities.

It was his third List A century of his career; the occasion couldn’t have been better – a quality opposition, and a trophy at stake. He enjoyed his time in the middle, and made it a point to punish all spinners in operation. More than an entertaining cameo, it was a mature knock, as he showed sagacity in shifting his gears and the momentum.

But more importantly, Kishan demonstrated a willingness to adjust to scenarios within a contest and choose his moments, the hallmark of a high-quality batsman.

Who does he go to for advice? “When I feel I need to improve more on my wicketkeeping I just go talk to [M. S. Dhoni]. He tells me what drills I can do to get better at wicketkeeping and at the same time I ask him how to score big runs also. He gives me good advice.”

Part of the India A squad for the one-dayers and four-day matches in its tour of New Zealand next month, and set to play for Jharkhand in the Ranji Trophy, Kishan has to juggles different formats and conditions. He said he was ready for the challenge.

“You have to be ready. You could play with any type of ball at any time. We are all set for that. When we are going for Ranji Trophy matches the red ball [would be used]. We just need one or two days’ practice and then we can go and execute our plans – whatever we plan before the match.”