“Chhota dynamite hai, dikhta chhota hai, par jab fut-ta hai toh bahut awaaz karta hai,” Saurabh Tiwary tries to describe the explosive talent of his 18-year-old wicket-keeper batsman Ishan Kishan. A tiny dynamite capable of making much noise. With 633 runs in 8 games for Jharkhand this season, Ishan averages an impressive 63 and is looking to resume fireworks when his Ranji team take on Haryana on Friday.
Young players trying to make waves through big performances in domestic cricket isn’t new, but lately two boys have caught India’s eye. Delhi’s Rishabh Pant and Jharkhand’s Ishan are looked upon as the future, trying to succeed in the men’s world. Though the world noticed Pant in the IPL for Delhi Daredevils last season, Ishan had to wait for some more time.
He had once believed that the shortest route would be the best. He started as an opener and a captain of the India Under-19 World Cup team, but to the 18-year-old boy’s disappointment, he would return home empty handed. There was not much to talk about. For a small town boy from Patna, the world of live coverage and later IPL was hard to grasp. He admits he got shaky while trying to do something extra. It was then that Rahul Dravid came in handy. The former India captain had a piece of advice to offer.
“Starting mein aake sab chakachaundh dikha, pressure mein aa gaya. I had never seen such glamour, so much media, live telecast games. Suddenly expectations went high and I forgot that these are the moments to enjoy and not to think too much. I was just shaky during India’s under-19 games. I let everyone down, Dravid sir ko bhi. He trusted me and I never gave the result,” he reveals.
Later IPL happened, and suddenly he was being clicked by unknown people, with a convoy of cops escorting him from the stadium to hotel and back. It was all too much for the young boy. But Ishan would remember the words Dravid told him after he failed miserably during the colts’ World Cup.
“There is no point in feeling shaky. Go work on your strengths. Do your homework. Run karoge toh bada kheloge,” Ishan recalls the master telling him.
The Ranji season began with a mere four runs against Maharashtra, and it was then that MS Dhoni would step in and offer wisdom that came as big help. Like Dhoni, most of the Jharkhand boys are famous for their aggressive batting displays. Dhoni came in as mentor for Jharkhand for the initial games and there he told Ishan that to score big, one has to cut his shots initially. “Bada run karne ke liye, starting ke innings mein shot cut karna zaroori hai. Let those 20 runs come from mehnat. And once set, a batsman can pace it up,” Dhoni told Ishan.
What followed was performances that everyone was waiting for from the boy who had shown glimpses of his talent. An unbeaten 159 against a strong Karnataka bowling attack, 273 against Delhi when Jharkhand was 4 for 80 and 136 against Saurashtra.
Ishan says playing in such tough situations was nothing new. When he represented Bihar Under-16 a few years ago, his team was five down chasing 187 runs. His coach sent a note saying he had to finish the game and then come back. “Parchi thamah diye, ladke ne bola Sir bole padho, aur jeb mein dal do. Scoring in those tense moments gives you immense joy. I went on to be called that boy whom the team can trust when four-five wickets are down. Everyone should feel, this boy will finish off this game,” he adds.
People might be in awe of his batting but Ishan demands more consistency of himself. In two years’ time he wants to be full ‘paka hua’ player — ripe and ready. Now after everything, he has not let Dravid down. The India Under-19 coach once had told Ishan that he has enough talent and if he doesn’t deliver he will not feel nice.
The next five days will be a testing time for Ishan and Jharkhand. His side came in on the back of a superb run in this Ranji Trophy. They have five outright wins and have surpassed teams like Karnataka to reach the top spot with 39 points. Jharkhand was the only team last season to qualify for all tournaments, but won none. The next five days in Motibaugh will see Jharkhand trying to outplay Haryana and try to better their record in knock-out stages. For Jharkhand’s Tiwary, he will just hope, his small dynamite bursts at the right time once again.