Ishan Kishan was under pressure ahead of the first T20 match against Australia, having failed to score a half-century in the last 16 international innings in this format. But on Thursday, with the team in trouble chasing a big total, the stylish left-handed batter hunkered down and made a crucial 58 (39b) to help India chase down its highest total in T20Is.
Incidentally, his previous T20I half-century also came at the same Dr YSR ACA-VDCA ground last year against South Africa. In that game, Ishan scored a vital 54 (35b) as an opener to help India stay alive in the five-match series after being 0-2 down.
Even as his stock rose in one-day international cricket - he scored a brilliant double hundred against Bangladesh last year, which got him into the World Cup squad - his T20 form dipped.
After playing the first two matches at the World Cup to replace Shubman Gill, who was recovering from dengue, the 25-year-old had to sit out the rest of the tournament. The batter revealed that the work he put in over the last month-and-a-half has helped him improve his game.
On Thursday, he took a while to get going during the chase, even playing out a maiden over to left-arm pacer Jason Behrendorff. At one stage, he just had six off 13 balls before he hit his first maximum off Sean Abbott.
But Ishan found his stride once he found a favourable match-up against leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha. With the ball turning into him, he targeted the midwicket boundary with slog sweeps and hoiks, hitting the leggie for three sixes and two boundaries.
“This goes back a little to when we were playing the World Cup, and I was not playing the matches. So, in the practice sessions, I asked myself what was important for me right now and what I could do, and I practised a lot in the nets. I was talking to my coaches about the game, how to take the game deep, how to target those bowlers,” said Ishan about his knock.
“Being a lefty batter [facing] a leg-spinner, I knew how the pitch was because I kept [wickets] for 20 overs. So it was very much needed. When chasing a total of 209, you need to target bowlers whom you can hit.”
“I chatted with Surya Bhai and (said) I will take this guy wherever he bowls. We needed to get the runs and balls close because you can’t give too many runs to the backend batters, as it won’t be easy for them to come and play those big shots. So I had to take my chances, and I believed in myself,” he added.
With the T20 World Cup in the West Indies just seven months away, Ishan will want to use the promising start to the series to rediscover his form in the shortest format and cement his place in the squad even when the regular members return.
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