Even before the age of 18, Ishan Kishan had led India to the final of an Under-19 World Cup, has a double century alongside his name in Ranji Trophy and has already been called as next MS Dhoni from the state of Jharkhand.
Ishan can bat at any pace as per the requirement of the game and according to the format. He can play big innings like that of 273, whereas, he can topple any bowling line-up with his aggressive batting to cause fear among bowlers.
In Ranji Trophy 2015/16, when Ravindra Jadeja was eating up Jharkhand batsmen on a pitch where the ball was turning viciously like a top, Ishan stood there alone smacking eight sixes which comprised an innings of 87 off 84 – later turned out to be highest scoring innings of the game.
He has shown utmost maturity at a young age and has capitalised on the opportunities provided. Ishan’s next assignment will the two unofficial Tests for India A against South Africa A in South Africa. It promises to be an arduous tour where skills of every batsman would be tested. It’s an opportunity for players to do well in the formidable conditions where one who adjusts to the conditions well, will shine and press a case for a place in the side for India tour of South Africa later this year.
Ahead of the start of the tour, Sportzwiki caught up with Ishan Kishan to know about his special preparations for that tour, comparisons with MS Dhoni and having Rahul Dravid as coach of India A. Here are some excerpts from the interview –
SW: This is your first call-up to India A for an overseas tour. So what are the challenges you anticipate and how are you feeling at the moment?
Ishan: It’s a great feeling to be called up to India A squad but the focus is on to perform there. I have come to Chennai to practice for the challenge ahead of the tour. Here I am hoping for some good practice and look forward to participating in some practice games so as it can help me cope up with the challenges there. It’s a good feeling to be selected in the team.
SW: You have been preferred over Rishabh Pant as a wicket-keeper in India A side right from start. Whether talking about the India A game against Bangladesh or Australia, you were the specialist wicketkeeper. Does it give you a feeling that they are looking at you as a successor of Wriddhiman Saha in the longest format of the game?
Ishan: As a cricketer, I never think that ahead of any Test series whether the selectors are testing me. Rather, I am concentrating on the opportunity that has been provided to me. I am looking forward to the job in hand. It’s all about performance and selectors will do the best for the team. It’s totally up to them but I concentrate on going on the field and performing well.
SW: The conditions in South Africa are quite bouncy and steep bounce is a challenge for any batsman. Have you started any special preparations for that?
Ishan: Yes, it is a problem for every batsman to play there as cricket is played on a totally different track – on bouncy track which tests a batsman. I am in Chennai and I will practice to cope up with the challenges there to come with performance.
SW: During your Under-19 days, there was Rahul Dravid as your coach, at Jharkhand there is MS Dhoni as a player and mentor, and in Gujarat Lions, there is Suresh Raina as a captain. How helpful is it to have these veterans of the game in your team in respective roles?
Ishan: At a young age, it is very crucial to play alongside players like MS Dhoni and having Rahul Dravid as your coach. It’s a plus point for a youngster. It’s very easy for them to spot the problems which we face whilst on the field. They are legendary cricketers and they know that if we are shying to talk to them, they call us themselves and solve the issues. They work with us to sort out the weakness in our game and how to perform under pressure. This is a plus point that they spot the areas where we lack and then work upon it to come over those mistakes.
SW: Particularly talking about MS Dhoni, now you have played with him in Ranji Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy. What all you have learned from him in totality?
Ishan: He made me realise that when you make a score of 40-50 or 70-80 then you have the capability to convert it into a big one. He advised a few changes in the game so as to get big scores. He told me about how to bat as an opener – the mindset what an opening batsman need to have. You have to play according to the situation and also I got few fitness tips from him.
SW: Talking of wicket-keeping, any special tips from him regarding this aspect of the game?
Ishan: Yes, he taught me much about this aspect of the game. I got a detailed lesson from him regarding this.
SW: Just likes MS Dhoni, you hail from Jharkhand and you are also a wicket-keeper batsman just like him. Do you feel the pressure when people call you next MS Dhoni from the state of Jharkhand?
Ishan: To become like MS Dhoni or just to achieve one-fourth of what he has achieved, it’s a big achievement for any cricketer. When I hear someone comparing me with MS Dhoni, it inspires me to do well. I work very hard so as it doesn’t give a chance to anyone to say that there has not been anyone like Dhoni.
SW: Going back to the Under-19 World Cup. You took any tips from him or had a talk with him before going in the tournament?
Ishan: I felt a bit scary while talking to him first time. He was so nice that he himself used to tell about the role of a captain. About changes what we have to bring in the game, about fielding when a particular bowling is at work and all the tips were quite useful.
SW: It was a tough tournament for you with the bat as the performance was not up to the mark. How difficult was it for you to come back stronger and do well in the upcoming season?
Ishan: This was the first time when I didn’t perform well and at that time, Dravid sir told me about the mistakes which I did. He told me few things and then I came back and practiced that to improve my batting. I worked on it and it helped me to come back in form soon.
SW: Again, Rahul David will be present with India A in South Africa. How useful will it be for you to again having him as the coach?
Ishan: Very helpful. I have worked with him earlier and again, I would ask him regarding changes in my batting. I would ask him to spot mistakes which I am doing and will improve it.
SW: Of course you have age by your side but when you see a player of your age group from the under 19 days playing for the Indian team. Does it create a bit of pressure on you to get to that stage as soon as possible?
Ishan: My sole focus is to perform well. If I do well, then of course selectors will pick me if they think that I am suitable to fit in that spot. More than the competition, I keep my mind instilled on the performance.
SW: You played stupendous innings of 273 in Ranji Trophy against a strong Delhi side, which turned out to be a historic game. Any special person you would like to credit that innings too?
Ishan: All the coaches helped me. Rajeev Kumar sir who gave me throw downs and it was the support from everyone that helped me to play that innings.
SW: Indian team is set to travel South Africa in the month of December and you have been given a chance here with the ‘A’ team. Are you eyeing that tour from now because Indian team will need a backup wicketkeeper and you being given a chance ahead of the tour, is it something that is going through your mind at the moment?
Ishan: It’s an important assignment for me where I will look to perform well. I am taking one game at a time and aiming to perform well in that game. I am practicing to improve my game and after that, it’s up to selectors to judge the performing element in the team.
SW: Every player set a target for himself regarding till when he sees himself in the team. Same, have you set any goal for yourself?
Ishan: If you fail to achieve something after you aim for it, it backfires and creates pressure on you. So I am looking to go game by game, concentrating on one match at a time and I am looking to perform well.