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Dhoni’s Chhotu comes of age

I’m sure his turn will also come because he has proven himself as a performer: Former India wicketkeeper and chief selector Kiran More
Ishan Kishan
Ishan Kishan
File picture

Sayak Banerjee   |   Calcutta   |   Published 09.11.20, 01:21 AM

Ishan Kishan, fondly called “Chhotu” in the Jharkhand dressing room by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and others, looks determined to break into the bigger league soon. And Dhoni has had a hand in shaping the wicketkeeper-batsman’s career.

In his third year at Mumbai Indians, Ishan has graduated into a dependable batsman for his team. Being the joint top run-getter (with 483 runs) alongside Quinton de Kock for Mumbai at this year’s IPL so far, Ishan has proven that he is good enough to score off some of the best bowlers in the world. He also has the highest number of sixes (29) in this IPL so far.

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In his initial years, he would be seen targeting the leg-side mostly for big hits. But this time, Ishan has unleashed some meaty blows on the off side too and they have come off even a world-class bowler like Kagiso Rabada. Moreover, he aggregates 290 runs in his last six innings at a splendid average of 96.66.

So is it a matter of time before Ishan gets a chance in the Indian team? Former India wicketkeeper and chief selector Kiran More wants the youngster to not lose patience and keep focusing on the process.

“Obviously, Ishan has grown in terms of maturity. Maybe he hasn’t been lucky enough like others, but he should keep doing his job and focus on the process.

“I’m sure his turn will also come because he has proven himself as a performer,” More told The Telegraph.

Ishan shared the Jharkhand dressing room with Dhoni during the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy in 2017 and that experience has proved to be very beneficial for the left-handed batsman, says his childhood coach Uttam Mazumdar.

“MS and the others in the team used to call him Chhotu. That period, during which Ishan shared the dressing room with MS, was indeed a major experience for him.

“MS used to tell him, ‘You have so many shots in your armoury, so you should just look to spend more time at the crease and be patient.’ Those words from MS motivated Ishan a lot, and the good listener and keen learner that he is, he keeps them in mind all the time.

“As a wicketkeeper too, he’s a safe bet and his fielding also shows how fit he is,” Mazumdar said from Noida.

The India squad for the U-19 World Cup in Bangladesh four years ago, of which Ishan was the captain, also featured Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar and Khaleel Ahmed. Barring Ishan, the other three have graduated to represent Team India in some format or the other. But for Ishan, his exposure so far has been limited to the India A level.

Having played a key role in Mumbai Indians’ success so far in IPL 2020, Ishan would be hoping to get a national call-up sometime soon. Till then, the 22-year-old would do good to remember Dhoni’s advice — “be patient”.



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