Dubai: Mumbai Indians’ young batting star Ishan Kishan is satisfied with his evolution with the defending champions heading into the tougher side of expectations in the future.
The Patna-born youngster, who also plays for Jharkhand, hogged the limelight with a blistering 99 from 58 deliveries against Royal Challengers Bangalore last week. In his next match, like in the first, Kishan holed out over the midwicket region, exposing a possible weakness in his armour.
“Honestly, I was not good at playing shots in the covers, but I have worked a lot during the off-season. If I get the ball over there now, then definitely I will go for it because it’s something that every teams plans for you. They have meetings before the match and they know where the weak spot is and where they have to bowl to us. So it’s important for us [as batsmen] to practise during the off-season and get better,” Kishan told the MI website.
With the likes of hard-hitters such as Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya as company, the 22-year-old’s focus has only got better. “I’ve been working with them since the last three years and I know how they plan the game. It’s not just about power hitting, but how they take the game to the last over and how they put pressure on the bowlers at the same time while rotating the strike,” Kishan said.
“This is something that I’ve been learning from them. Not just how to rotate strike, but also to keep the players confused on my next move.”
Kishan’s father Pranav Kumar Pandey is a builder by profession and it was Ishan’s brother Raj who supported him in pursuing his career in cricket. Due to a registration issue between the Bihar Cricket Association and the BCCI, the young Ishan started playing for neighbouring Jharkhand.
In December 2015, he was named as the Indian captain for the 2016 Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup. His debut in the IPL came when he was picked up by the Gujarat Lions. When the big-spending Mumbai Indians wanted an Indian wicketkeeper-batsman for their side in 2018, they zeroed in on Kishan, whose brilliance shone through last week with that blistering 99.
However, he struggled for runs in the next match against Kings XI Punjab with a sedate 28. “I think it was the conditions. The pitch was not that easy. It was double pace and double bounce. Sometimes the ball was coming on the bat, and sometimes it was just nipping. It was difficult for me to think which is that perfect ball that I should go for,” Kishan said.
“The Punjab batsmen also were struggling especially when the ball was new. And during this match [against KXIP] my task was to take the game to the end, and not just start hitting from the start.”
Kishan departed, once again caught in the midwicket region on an attempted hook shot. “I think it is just about that one bad shot. During this match the ball was meant to go for a six if I was just standing and hitting, but I was unlucky. It’s OK as this is what the IPL is all about. You play matches and you keep learning,” he said.
That said, Kishan backed his team to continue with their winning momentum. “We have that belief of never giving up. I have seen many situations where we have been stuck, but still there has been some hope and we’ve clung on to it and we have got the game back from every situation,” he said.
MI’s next match will be against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Sunday’s expected run feast at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. “I think they have a few good bowlers. I know it is a small ground, but at the same time if we don’t get loose balls then we have to respect the deliveries and just keep going. We’ve got to be selective. Having a small ground is a plus point and both teams are going to go for their big shots,” he said.
“We know that pitches are slow here. The bowlers, especially the spinners will get the assistance. But then, we have handled these sort of situations during the domestic season as well. So all we need to do is execute our plans by selecting the right bowlers.”