Ishan Porel focused on the big picture after IPL snubs

Ishan Porel has not been picked by the IPL franchises in successive auctions, but he is focused on good performances in the Ranji Trophy.

Ishan Porel was a key performer in the victorious 2018 Indian U-19 World Cup-winning team.   -  N. Sudarshan

Match-turning performances in an U-19 World Cup are sure to fast-track most cricketers’ careers. But for young Bengal speedster Ishan Porel, it has been markedly different.

His four for 17 (all frontline batsmen) in the 2018 U-19 World Cup semifinal flattened Pakistan, and his two-wicket burst (of both openers) in the final against Australia sliced open the match for India. Yet, the 20-year-old right-armer has had to bide his time, battle injuries and swallow snubs at two back-to-back IPL auctions even as some of his team-mates have rocketed to fame.

“It does play a bit on your mind,” says Porel about the IPL non-selection. “But everyone, from Vibhash sir [childhood coach] to others, has told me that the goal should be to play for India at Test level.”

“Yes, IPL is a great platform for youngsters and a good four overs can change your life. And when fellow players from the World Cup are picked by franchises, it does get you thinking. But these things do not hold me back now.”

Coach Rahul Dravid’s role in building up his resilience has been immense, Porel says. In the 2018 Cup-opener, he hobbled off with a serious heel injury after landing awkwardly during his follow-through. But he remained part of the squad and was allowed time to recover, with Dravid even going on to say that he could have hit speeds in excess of 140kmph if not for the injury.

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“Anybody else would have sent me back [to India]” Porel says. “But Rahul sir and the support staff assured me that I would be the first one to be picked for the knock-outs if fit. So I was putting ice on my left leg 12 times a day while others went out and enjoyed. The World Cup was going away from me but I pulled it back. Those ups and downs have made me better.”

A debut for India-A in the just-concluded series against Sri Lanka-A was his reward for battling through. Performances were middling against Lanka but the very fact that he was in the mix was reassuring. “It was a great opportunity,” he says. “In the IPL, things are in the franchises’ hands and not everyone gets a chance to play. But here I can show fans and BCCI that I have the potential.”

Porel hopes that this experience will set him up well for the upcoming domestic season. “Good performance in Ranji Trophy will take me far. Seniors like [Ashok] Dinda, Manoj [Tiwary], [Wriddhiman] Saha have helped me a lot. So I have high expectations from myself.”