In September last year, Mumbai Indians (MI) was staring down the barrel in an IPL fixture against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
Chasing a mammoth 202, MI needed a miracle at 39 for three. Out of nowhere, Ishan Kishan played saviour, with a breathtaking 58-ball 99, studded with two fours and nine sixes.
Ishan’s assault helped MI pull level with RCB, before the latter prevailed in a Super Over. RCB captain Virat Kohli may have survived the scare, but the southpaw’s knock certainly left an impression on him.
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Ishan exuded a fearless, guilt-free, unhinged style of hitting, the very same qualities that the Indian team management — led by Kohli — is searching for.
On his India debut, in the second T20 here on Sunday, Ishan was advised by Kohli and MI captain Rohit Sharma to stick to the game plan that brought him success in the IPL. The 22-year-old followed orders, and it worked wonders.
One can expect the same approach from Ishan in the third game here on Tuesday, for that is the only way he knows.
Debutant jitters, if any, disappeared when Ishan smoked speedster Tom Curran over long-on for a six in the sixth over. Two crunching fours followed, and Ishan was up and running.
The Jharkhand cricketer was severe on leg-spinner Adil Rashid as well, plonking his right foot forward and generating great power with a low, almighty swing of the bat. A reverse-sweep brought an end to his stay, but his 32-ball 56 set India on the path to victory.
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Time running out
If Ishan is a young man with a bright future ahead, time is running out for 35-year-old Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan featured in the first match, and was then dropped to make way for Ishan. It would be wise to give Ishan a long run — a courtesy that was not extended to Dhawan.
Questions will also be asked of K.L. Rahul, who has scored only one run in the two matches this series. With Rohit Sharma set to return from rest, Rahul could face the axe. Ishan could also be slotted in the middle-order — where he has batted in the IPL — to accommodate the first-choice Rahul-Rohit opening combination.
While there is a long way to go for the ICC T20 World Cup, scheduled to commence in India in October, there is a distinct possibility of Rohit and Ishan taking first strike at the mega event.
The England pacers, meanwhile, made life easy for the batsmen on Sunday. The Curran brothers, Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes showed no control over the slower deliveries, serving it up on a platter with rank long hops.
The visitors will do well to learn from the Indian fast bowlers, who landed their cutters perfectly on a good length outside off. The England batsmen — with their upright stance — cluelessly swung at deliveries which stayed low, making contact with nothing but air.