Things looked promising for Ishan Kishan in the first half of 2022. The left-hander was the most expensive recruit in the Indian Premier League auction and a regular in India’s T20 International side. But with some of India’s established players making comebacks, Kishan couldn’t eke out a spot in the squad for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
In the second ODI against South Africa on Sunday, though, Kishan showed his best again with a match-winning 93 after coming in at No 3. The 24-year-old put on 161-run partnership with Shreyas Iyer (113*) to help India level the three-match series.
Kishan seemed set to bring up his ODI century, but he continued to go hard at the bowlers and ended up pulling one to the fielder in the deep when he was on 93.
Talking about his dismissal in the post-match press conference in Ranchi, he said he tried to remain true to his natural game.
“Some players have the strength to rotate the strike, my strength is to hit sixes. I hit sixes effortlessly and not many can do that. If I do the job by hitting sixes, there’s no need to think about rotating the strike much,” Kishan said at the post-match media interaction.
“If your strength is hitting sixes then go for it, what’s the need of rotating the strike just for the sake of it. But yes there will be time when rotating the strike would be key with wickets falling at the other end.”
He elaborated on it a little later.
“I could have got those seven runs in singles, but it has never been my game to play that way,” Kishan said. If I get a ball [in my area], I’ll try to hit it, because I had got that far in my innings by playing that way. Even when I took chances against Nortje, I was batting on 80 or 85. I never get into that zone where I look to score runs for myself. If I’m playing for India and thinking of playing for myself, I’ll be letting down the fans and everyone who supports us.”
Kishan also shared his views on missing out on a World Cup spot. The keeper-batter admitted there is a need for improvement in his game and he is prepared to wait for his chance.
“Obviously, you feel bad when you’re not part of the team for a big tournament where you could get good exposure,” he said.
“If you win a World Cup for your country, it’s an entirely different, proud feeling. But I feel the selectors and coaches must have seen some shortcomings [in my game], and even I feel there’s a need for improvement. I know I haven’t given my best performance yet.”
Kishan added: “As you know, there are plenty of batters in the team who are in form, whether it’s middle order or openers, and they’re batting really well. I’ll wait for my time, but when I get that chance, I’ll want to make sure I have the kind of confidence within me that my preparation is complete and I can win matches for my team. When I have that self-belief, I’ll say I’m ready for that spot.”
On his conversation with Iyer during the partnership, he said the onus was on him to take on the attack, given the match-ups and his knowledge of the venue.
“They had two left-arm spinners so as a left-hander it was for me to take chances and put the attack on their bowlers. I’ve played so many matches here and know the wicket very well. I knew it would slow down in the second innings, but after playing Keshav Maharaj I knew this wicket did not have much on offer. I wanted to take on the left-arm spinners, I will take the chance. We just wanted to take our chances before the ball got old.”
Kishan also spoke about the fact India’s second-string side are playing a strong South Africa side.
“I heard people talking that we are the B-side, we are not so much capable of beating South Africa full strength side. I heard these comments and was really upset about it, so we wanted to play our A-game today. We lost the first game and we wanted to win this badly so that we can give a fight in the next one. In the kind of Sanju bhai and Iyer bhai are in, everyone is in their prime form, all the target is on the next game,” he said.