Kishan: 'I have to work harder to reach Dhoni's level'

Kishan: "It was Ishank Jaggi and Sunny Gupta (not part of the playing XI) who told me to open the innings. Jaggi told me to go out and enjoy and encouraged saying the worst thing that could happen is you will get out and we will chase it down a bit slowly."

"I have to work hard and not stop thinking that I have arrived because people are comparing me with Dhoni," said Kishan.   -  Sandeep Saxena

After the third day’s play on Sunday, during a casual chat with reporters, Ishan Kishan was distraught with his luck after getting bowled first ball in Jharkhand’s first innings against Haryana. It was the softest way to get out after he inside edged onto his pads and rolled onto the stumps.

The 18-year old knew it was a chance to score a big one on what was a relatively easy wicket. The exuberance of a teenager was on display as he air-batted on how he would have loved to have a hit and smashed the bowlers.

Thankfully for him, he didn’t have to wait long. Target of 177, 40 overs left in the day, an easy pitch with all the early morning moisture in the wicket baked in the afternoon sun. The platform was set on Monday when the senior members of his side asked him to open the innings even though Kishan was reluctant initially.

Speaking about his innings, Kishan said, “It was Ishank Jaggi and Sunny Gupta (not part of the playing XI) who told me to open the innings. Jaggi told me to go out and enjoy and encouraged saying the worst thing that could happen is you will get out and we will chase it down a bit slowly.”

For Skipper Saurabh Tiwary it was a sound strategically too. “The idea behind sending Kishan was we knew if he got going, he could put the game past the opposition.

"Low scores can be tricky especially if we had to come out on the final day with early morning moisture helping the pacers, anything could happen. As you saw we got close to 100 in no time with 10 wickets in hand and the game was beyond them."

The comparison with M.S. Dhoni which was already there is now bound to increase after this knock. “I think if people are comparing then it means they want me to do well like him. So now I have to work hard and not stop thinking that I have arrived because people are comparing me with him,” said Kishan.

Dhoni’s influence has been vital for this Jharkhand team with the India skipper practising with the team on few occasions. A session in the nets batting alongside the Dhoni before the match against Karnataka worked wonders for Kishan as he smashed an unbeaten 159.

“In the nets he called me to come bat with him and I knew he was going to give some tips. I then asked him about how to score big runs. He asked me to curb two three shots at the start of the innings saying it can get you 30-40 runs but you will get out.”

Kishan had a poor run in the under-19 World Cup and admits to being under pressure and credits Rahul Dravid to helping him find his mojo back.

“I was nervous after not doing well but he assured me saying I have all the shots and age on my side. He asked me to work on my footwork especially since I open in the limited overs and I am in regular touch with him.”

It was evident on Monday that it is working as he got into position early that allowed him to launch into his shots easily. With the selectors keeping an eye on him Kishan admits that thought is in the back of his mind.

“The awareness is there more when I am fielding that selectors are watching me and observing what I do on the field than when I am batting where I just play my natural game.”

This was the only quarterfinal chosen for broadcast and was a chance to display his skills to a wider audience. It was evident immediately that Kishan was not joking on Sunday on how he would have played when he sent Harshal Patel behind square for a huge six.

Soon he went after Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal before Haryana skipper Mohit Sharma too faced his music. He hit Sharma straight back over long on, with the ball landing on the roof of the Haryana dug-out - a nice way of signaling where the match was heading.

By the time Kishan got out, trying to clear the boundary only 36 runs were required with an hour’s play to go for the day. He not only put the game beyond Haryana - importantly gave his side an extra day of rest ahead of its first semifinal clash.