Kolkata: Young Ishan Kishan, whose batting pyrotechnics played a part in Mumbai Indians massive win on Wednesday, has credited skipper Rohit Sharma for backing him despite his repeated failures.
After some below-par outings, Kishan's day of reckoning finally came last night with the 19-year-old smashing a brilliant 62 off just 21 balls to help Mumbai Indians' cause.
"Rohit bhaiya told me to just back yourself and attack. When your skipper and teammates are backing you, it's just about playing your natural game," Ishan said after MI thrashed Kolkata Knight Riders by 102 runs Wednesday night.
Picked up by MI for Rs 6.20 crore after an intense bidding with Royal Challengers Bangalore, the wicketkeeper-batsman batsman struggled initially with three ducks, forcing his team management to drop him down in the batting order from No 3 to 4.
But Kishan finally showed his mettle last night when, sent in, MI looked in a disarray on 62 for 2 after nine overs. The diminutive left-hander then came in and tore apart the likes of Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine to help the defending champions post an imposing 210 for 6.
"The coach also said in the timeout that just be yourself, back yourself. We need some good hits today. Rohit bhaiya also said the same. 'You can hit well just look at the ball and get with the flow.'
"They knew that if I remained there I can get a lot of runs. I just had to look at the ball till the last moment and keep it going," Kishan said.
Kishan went ballistic against Kuldeep in the 14th over with four consecutive sixes and in the process notched up his fifty in 17 balls, the joint second fastest half-century of the season.
"Kuldeep is outgoing for me (the one that turns away from me) but he loves to bowl the googly at me. I've played him earlier as well. I knew he would look to get me stumped by bowling outside off. My target was if the ball was in my arc, just get the ball out of the park," said Kishan about his strategy.
"It was like just watching the ball and if you get them in your arc hit them or just take a single with Rohit bhaiya batting at the other end. I knew if I missed something, he will make it up for it."
Kishan also played the 'helicopter' shot made famous by his Ranchi mentor Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"He's a legend. I also get lots of tips from Dhoni bhai. He keeps telling me 'you can take time. Just read the situation and see how to build your innings.' I feel confident when these guys talk to me," Kishan said.
KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik came out in support of chinaman Kuldeep, who leaked 43 runs from his three overs on Wednesday.
"He (Kuldeep) brings in a lot of control in the middle and it's hard when he goes for runs. These things happen in a game of cricket. He gets picked in all three formats and he is a confident young guy. He knows it's one of those bad days," Karthik said at the post-mach press conference.
A surprise choice as KKR captain, Karthik was visibly under tremendous pressure and said their playoff chances are still alive with three matches left.
"I am very disappointed. But there are three games and we will take one game at a time. So if we win the games I know we have a great chance of getting to the playoffs. I believe in that and want my teammates to believe in that," Karthik said.
"190 would have been a par target as the wicket was good. It was 20 runs over par which made a lot of difference. We succumbed to pressure and played a few bad shots and lost too many wickets in the powerplay," he signed off, summing up their worst game of the season.