What started as a promising season was turning out to be a forgettable one for Ishan Kishan. He was touted as the 'X' factor of the Mumbai Indians squad ahead of the season, but runs deserted him as the tournament progressed. Three ducks — two golden — didn't make for good reading as well.
Siddhesh Lad and Aditya Tare are the couple of names warming the bench. Mumbai Indians had the option to replace the struggling Ishan but they showed trust in the 19-year old. Perhaps, this is what separates Mumbai and majority of the other teams. Maybe Chennai Super Kings — MS Dhoni especially — think on the same lines. But other teams have opted for the chop-and-change method when things haven't gone their way. Mumbai's approach is different, and it has always helped them. Wednesday's clash was another example.
Initially asked to open the batting, Ishan was brought down the order after Suryakumar Yadav bagged his chances at the top. His highest score before Wednesday was a 58 against Rajasthan Royals which came during a 129-run stand with Suryakumar. But he could hardly buy a run after that knock.
The pressure must have been mounting on Ishan coming into this match despite Mumbai's culture of backing youngsters. The nerves would've worsened when he was completely foxed by a Kuldeep Yadav googly. A few inches here or there would've meant a fourth duck in the season. However, the southpaw reacted by slamming the white object out of the park.
Ishan's intent since then was quite clear. He was given the license to attack without worrying too much about the risks. The three boundaries off Piyush Chawla were a good enough warning for Dinesh Karthik for the carnage that was to follow. He single-handedly turned the tide of the match and forced KKR to take spin out of the attack and reintroduce pace. Karthik did just that but to no avail as Rohit Sharma put the bad balls away.
But despite the assault, the game hung in the balance until the Kuldeep over. Mind you, Kuldeep didn't bowl all at bad in the over. In fact, he almost created a stumping opportunity on one of the balls.
Ishan, premeditatedly, danced down the track. Sensing a big shot, Kuldeep tried to beat the left-hander on the leg side but the latter adjusted well and launched the ball into the stands. One became two and two became four. A 17-ball 50 after the couple of poor games would've satisfied any batsman.
But the annoyance on Ishan's face after being caught for 62 demonstrated the hunger with which he came out to bat. He knew he could snatch the game away from KKR with another big over. He seemed distraught while heading to the pavilion but not before laying the perfect platform for the next batsmen.
Kolkata might have put up an embarrassing and may 'lacked spirit' but if it wasn't for Ishan, maybe Mumbai wouldn't have been able to cross the 200-run mark. It was his innings that turned the match on its head, and credit must also be bestowed upon the Mumbai team management for sticking with him.
In a competition like IPL, where chances are rare — even for overseas players — and the pressure is extremely high, Mumbai have time and again showed trust in the players they believe in and that surely is one of the reasons why they are the most successful IPL sides ever.