'In the zone' Ishan makes a strong statement

"I was in my zone and fielders hardly mattered. I was confident that I could clear the fence easily," said Ishan Kishan after scoring an exciting knock of 273 against Delhi in the Ranji Trophy Group B encounter on Sunday.

Ishan Kishan: 'I played the ball on merit.'   -  M. R. Praveen Chandran

Like his idol David Warner, Ishan Kishan packs a punch on his shots. The diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman gave a graphic description of his immense ability by mauling the > Delhi attack to score a double century (273) of rare brilliance on Sunday.

Ishan, who completed 1000 runs in first-class cricket during that knock, oozed class. The backfoot drives through the covers and the lofted shots through the infield were played nonchalantly, with minimal movement lending grace to his strokeplay. He seemed to have lot of time to play his strokes and he packed a lot of power in his shots, too.

The St. Xavier’s College ground, which is reasonably big, was peppered with 14 sixes despite Delhi having seven men on the fence most of the time when Ishan batted. “I was in my zone and fielders hardly mattered. I was confident that I could clear the fence easily,” he said.

Ishan’s maturity also belies his age. Of course, having led India in the under-19 World Cup earlier this year, Ishan knows a lot about responsibility. During his knock, Ishan farmed the strike with tailenders and enabled his team to pile up a huge total.

Ishan started the current Ranji season with a bang, scoring 159 not out against Karnataka and it was followed by a lean patch where he mustered just 41 runs from other three matches. The youngster is happy that he has run into form now and credits the seniors in the squad for advising him to be patient.

'Best knock'

“Seniors told me to be patient and score the first 20 runs slowly. They pointed out that I scored the first 20 runs during that knock of 159 very slowly. I followed what they told me and I played the ball on merit. I consciously avoided the pull shot which was my strength early in the innings. This is by far the best knock in my career,” said Ishan.

The 18-year-old attributes his success to hard work and improvement he made on his footwork. “During the Under-19 World Cup, Rahul sir (Dravid) told me to improve my footwork if I wanted to be a good batsman, especially as an opener. I went back to the nets and worked on it with my coach. It seems it is working for me now,” said Ishan.

Ishan is thankful for Jharkhand Cricket Association which gave him opportunity to represent the State and fast-tracked him into the Ranji squad. “I was born in Bihar but the association was suspended by BCCI and I was left with no team. I wanted to play cricket. I approached Jharkhand which was ready to take in. They could have made me wait for opportunities but they didn’t and I am thankful to them for that,” he said.