Mumbai: Mumbai Indians’ (MI) fourth-highest scorer in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), Ishan Kishan, believes he needs to bolster his stroke-play on the off-side and work on his consistency for sustained success.
Kishan, an aggressive left-handed batsman and wicket-keeper, scored 275 runs in IPL 2018 at an average of 22.91, including a match-turning 21-ball 62 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Eden Gardens. His maiden season with the three-time champions was, however, marred with inconsistency as he could muster just two half-centuries from 12 innings.
"Like most left-handers, I prefer to hit through the leg side. But having said that, I’d like to improve my strokes over mid-off and covers, and also the cut shot. Also, I’d like to work on my consistency to come back stronger next season," Kishan told Firstpost.
Kishan’s strike-rate of 149.45 was the second highest among all MI players, and it was a significant leap from 2017, when he struck at 134.46. The 19-year-old credits enhanced understanding of his game for the improvement.
“Last year, I had a word with (Suresh) Raina bhai. He told me a few things about reading the game. I also had lot of conversations with (MS) Dhoni bhai, who told me to calculate the game and play accordingly. Also, my own understanding of the game has improved over the past year. Now, I like to play the situations. If the ball is there to be hit and if I am timing it well, I’ll go for my shots, but generally, I like to bat as per the team’s needs,” he said.
MI failed to make it to playoffs this season, but Kishan credits skipper Rohit Sharma for standing by him through the lean patch.
“I got out for three ducks, including two in the space of three matches. But Rohit bhai always backed me. He understands that any player can get out early. All he told me was to play freely, which is what I tried to do. He told me that next year too I should continue with this approach and score more consistently,” he added.
The IPL, Kishan says, was a big learning curve for him, and among the lessons he inculcated was the flexibility to bat anywhere.
“Personally, I prefer to bat up the order, because that’s where you have a chance to set up the game. However, I learnt that if you are playing a competition like IPL, you can’t always get your preferences. You should be comfortable to play anywhere for the team, and that’s what I always sought to do.”
IPL 2018 also witnessed some impressive performances from India’s Under-19 World Cup-winning heroes Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw, while Shivam Mavi and Abhishek Sharma also made an impression. Kishan, who led India to the U-19 World Cup final in 2016, credited Rahul Dravid for the influx of fresh talent. The former India batsman coached U-19 World Cup teams in 2016 and 2018, and is also involved in the development of ‘A’ teams.
“I think Rahul Dravid sir deserves lot of credit for this. He coached us in 2016 (during the U-19 World Cup) and told us lot of important things about mindset and preparations. I followed his advice and scored about 800 runs in Ranji Trophy in 2016-17 season. It’s no surprise that a good young bunch is coming up under his guidance,” Kishan said.