Ishan Kishan is a compelling package – a hard-hitting left-hander who can bat anywhere from top to No. 5 and a capable presence behind the wickets.
It was a natural ascension for Kishan when he was included in India’s World Cup squad as the second wicketkeeper batsman behind K.L. Rahul.
However, his journey to the top has not always been a rosy one.
Kishan had to shift from Patna to Ranchi in search of better cricketing facilities.
“He is a fighter from a very young age, and was clear in his career as a cricketer. His practice nets (SAIL grounds) were very close to M.S. Dhoni’s house, and he always wanted to follow Mahi bhai’s footsteps, and keeps watching his videos.
“Luckily for him the JSCA Stadium, where they have turf wickets, was opened in 2013, and it helped him a lot to develop his game,” said Monu Kumar, the Jharkhand pacer and a close friend of Kishan.
It is easy to mistake Kishan for a clone of Dhoni – a destructive batter who keeps wickets, and both of them come from the same State.
But there is more to Kishan than being a mere Dhoni progeny.
Former India wicketkeeper Kiran More, who has worked with Kishan since 2018 at the NCA as well as at the Mumbai Indians, shared more details about the many contours of his ward’s game.
“He is a natural at everything he does. I was at the NCA for a wicketkeepers’ camp and Kishan had others like Sanju Samson in his batch. Kishan was so athletic and he had such soft hands even at that age,” More told PTI.
More said he did not have to tweak Kishan’s game much, and just had to make some minor corrections.
“He came with a naturally good game. I had to tell him a bit about his head and squatting positions. We also worked a bit on his ball collection and a few other minor techniques.
“Later, we worked on the same things a bit more during my time at the Mumbai Indians. What stands out is his ability to adapt and willingness to learn,” said More.
Those abilities came to the fore when he was asked to bat at No. 5, a first in his nascent career, during the Asia Cup match against Pakistan last week here at Pallekele.
Kishan fully exploited the opportunity handed to him making a fluent 82 off 81 balls.
More was pleased to see the development of Kishan as a genuine wicket-keeper batter.
“Yes, I am sure he will make an impact for India. He is a long-term player and you will not get such players very often.
“Kishan being a left-hander will add more variety to the Indian batting order, you know that left-right combination…a dream for any team management,” said More.
Kishan’s knock against Pakistan was all the more important because it came against a top-class bowling unit and India were struggling at 66 for 4 at one stage.
Kishan’s innings offered little surprise to Mumbai Indians assistant batting coach and former Karnataka batter J. Arunkumar.
“Many times, we only see one side of his (Kishan’s) batting because he is such a fabulous hitter of the ball. But there is more to his batting than that eye-catching shot-making.
“He is calm and collected under any situation. That mature head is his biggest asset,” said Arunkumar.
More agreed to the point.
“Yes! He still has a long way to go. But he gives India a brilliant option, and Kishan is quite handy at any batting slot.
“Now, we have four excellent wicketkeeper batters – Pant, Rahul, Kishan and Samson. It is a good thing to have this kind of pool of quality players,” he added.