In the last 12 months, as India’s batting T20 Victory Over Australia prowess soared, Ishan Kishan’s journey took a unique turn. Despite initiating a shift in approach at the top of the order in limited-overs cricket, he spent the next 10 months as a backup batsman, observing from the sidelines as his teammates thrived on flat pitches. Even during the World Cup, despite being in excellent form, he only got a chance when Shubman Gill was injured.
After witnessing his teammates struggle in the middle overs of the World Cup final, Ishan played a pivotal role in India’s historic T20 run chase against Australia in Vizag. His 39-ball 58 showcased his hunger, despite warming the bench for most of India’s matches since the Asia Cup, despite being one of the most in-form batsmen.
Despite key players missing the T20 series against Australia, Ishan didn’t secure his preferred top position. Gill took it in ODIs, and Yashasvi Jaiswal did the same in T20 cricket. However, Ishan’s adaptability stands out as his biggest strength. Unlike many peers, he can bat anywhere in the top five, and his aggressive style enhances his utility.
While Ishan’s T20 batting has faced criticism for not always adapting to the situation, in ODIs, he has proven himself capable of batting through overs.
In Vizag, he demonstrated this adaptability in T20s as well, facing a thorough test from Jason Behrendorff in the first 12 deliveries he encountered.
A seamer challenging Ishan is not a new scenario. However, a distinct change occurred when Behrendorff delivered the first ball of his subsequent over. Unlike the previous Ishan, who might have attempted an aggressive move, he calmly clipped it for a single and strategically dropped his hands at the last minute for the next ball. Although he was 4 runs off the initial 12 balls, Ishan adapted to the situation, especially after the quick dismissals of Ruturaj Gaikwad and Jaiswal while chasing a target of 209.
Finding familiarity and comfort, Ishan, paired with Suryakumar Yadav, a teammate from Mumbai Indians, executed his strengths. Initially playing a supporting role, he went at less than a run a ball for the first 21 deliveries. With India recovering from a shaky start and needing 130 runs off 72 deliveries, Ishan signaled his intent in the ninth over. He targeted leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha, seizing the right match-up, and hit a boundary and two sixes in three deliveries.
Reflecting on his strategy, Ishan mentioned, “Being a lefty batter and a leg-spinner bowling, (I had to take a chance). I knew how the wicket was because I kept it for 20 overs. So the counterattack was very much needed.” Recognizing the importance of taking on specific bowlers while chasing a formidable total, Ishan believed in his practice sessions and executed a well-timed counterattack.
This pivotal over marked a momentum shift, with both ends now featuring Indian batsmen in full throttle. With the asking rate just a little over 10, the two most experienced batsmen on the side seamlessly went about their business, unfazed by the challenge ahead.
Having shared the field with Surya bhai and being part of the same IPL team, I am familiar with his style of play and the range of shots he can execute. Today, the communication between us on the field felt excellent. We discussed which bowlers to target and when to rotate the strike. The overall planning and execution of our strategies were spot-on, and during that partnership, I genuinely felt we were in control of the game,” remarked Ishan.
While the partnership didn’t see the game to its conclusion, concluding in the 13th over, by then, the duo had already accomplished half of the job.