14 February 2016
On the cusp of history, Ishan Kishan stays calm
With Dravid’s guidance and faith in his team, the India U19 captain is quietly confident ahead of the title clash against West Indies
Ishan Kishan is now one step away from joining Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli and Unmukt Chand as an ICC Under-19 World Cup-winning captain.
Kishan, who was recently bought for Rs 35 lakh by Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League auction, is an intelligent character. His game-anticipation skills impressed Rahul Dravid, India’s coach, so much that he made him the captain of the team in the middle of the tri-nation series against Sri Lanka and England in Colombo before coming for the World Cup. But, Kishan is just 17 years old, and it is obvious that there will be nerves as he sits on the cusp of history.
“It keeps running in the back of your mind. Someone or the other keeps reminding you on your mobile. But, if you think much ahead of yourself about winning the World Cup, then the mind will waver from the main process,” said Kishan, when asked if he was aware of the significance of the occasion. “I am slightly active on social media, but I don’t reply much because everyone has expectations. They have been telling me to make 100 from the first match and win the World Cup.
“If I start replying to everyone, then it will be taken differently,” he added. “Instead (if) we can take eight hours of sleep then it will be very important. We have been ensuring our lifestyle is right before the final.”
Having made a move from Patna to Ranchi in order to become a professional cricketer, his first-class debut for Jharkhand in the previous domestic season was noteworthy. But, at the World Cup, he has been out of form as an opener and that has not helped India’s cause in the campaign.
Barring a 52 in a small chase against Nepal, he has failed to get going each time India has batted first in overcast conditions. His sequence of scores in the other four matches reads: 0 (Ireland), 4 (New Zealand), 6 (Namibia) and 7 (Sri Lanka).
“Each cricketer has a dip in form when he doesn’t make runs. That is happening with me right now, but it is about how you are doing in the practice. The way we have practiced, confidence is getting built up,” said Kishan. “When you are not in form, you start thinking I have to attack in the next game. Then you get out in the next game while attacking and you start thinking you have to stay the crease. The more you think, the more confused you become.”
That Kishan’s shoulders have not dropped is partially because of the access he has to Dravid.
“I have spoken to Dravid sir. If he is our coach, some advantage has to be there,” offered Kishan. “He told me to remember one good innings, and I remembered that I had played ball by ball without thinking much. In one of the zone matches I had got a big score. Sir told me that if I stay initially, then runs will come easily to me.
“Tomorrow also I will play ball by ball, if runs have to happen, they will happen,” he added. “I don’t want to make any mistake from my side that gives West Indies the advantage.”
After the Sri Lanka game, where India lost Rishabh Pant and Kishan before the tenth over, he had said that had any other team been batting in those conditions the openers could not have survived even that long. The match against West Indies, which has Alzarri Joseph and Chemar Holder – the tournament’s most threatening opening-bowling pair – is going to be similarly challenging.
“Everyday is a different game and tomorrow is a different game. I will forget the past and focus only on the situation on hand,” said Kishan. “If initially, me and Pant stay till the 12th over, then 300 is possible because our strength is such that we know how to rotate the strike, and when to hit. Our calculation is good. So, the first ten overs will be crucial; if we don’t lose wickets in them, then it will be a plus point for us.”
No matter whether India wins or loses, it will be the end of the Under-19 careers of many cricketers, and Kishan was impressed with the manner in which the team came together.
“In the boot camp that we had gone (in October), we had climbed mountains and done other things. Dinner and team meetings have helped in communication and building trust,” he said. “When I came here, I had not thought I will come across so many professionals (in the team). Everyone is engrossed in the game. It feels like a final as everyone is in the zone.”
A fourth World Cup win for India would be the perfect ending to a special three-month period in the lives of 15 young cricketers.
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