Though Ishan Kishan didn’t get to add to his two appearances in the recent Men’s ODI World Cup, the explosive wicketkeeper-batter was quick to make an impact in the T20I series opener against Australia, through his 39-ball 58, hitting two fours and five sixes to propel India for hunting down 209, their highest-ever chase in T20Is.
Once Shubman Gill recovered from dengue, Kishan was relegated to the sidelines and while being on the bench, the left-handed batter revealed how working on his game during the World Cup played a role in acing the chase against Australia.
"It goes back a little to during the (ODI) World Cup, when I wasn't playing those matches. I asked myself before every practice session, 'What is important for me right now? What I could do?' I practised a lot in the nets. I was constantly talking to the coaches about the game, how to take the game deep and how to target certain bowlers," he said in the post-match press conference.
30 of his 58 runs came off only facing ten deliveries against leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha. Though Kishan eventually fell to Sangha, he had done his job by then to keep India ahead in the chase."Being a lefty batter against a leg-spinner, I know how the wicket was as I had kept for 20 overs. When you are chasing 209, you need to target a bowler, who you can hit. The communication was very important in the middle."
"I had a chat with Surya bhai that 'I'm gonna take this guy (down) wherever he bowls' because we needed the close the gap between runs and balls'. You can't leave too many runs for the batters at the back."
"It won't be easy for them to play the big shots straight away. I had to take my chances and I believed in myself on what I did in practice sessions and that was the time when I needed to go for the big shots," he added.
Kishan was involved in a match-winning 112-run stand with stand-in Suryakumar Yadav, who wowed the Vizag crowd with a masterful 42-ball 80. Suryakumar is a familiar figure for Kishan as the duo have played together for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and that reflected in their camaraderie at the middle while chasing 209.
"We lost two early wickets and at the same time, that partnership was very important. I have played with Surya bhai; we are in the same team in the IPL also. So I know how he plays, what shots he can play. I felt the communication was very good in the middle."
"We were talking to each other about which bowlers we have to target and when we have to keep on rotating the strike. So the communication and overall planning, the way we executed all our plans that we were talking about in the middle – that was a time when I thought we were in the game," said Kishan.
After the duo’s relentless exploits, Rinku Singh guided India to victory with an unbeaten 22 off 14 balls. "Sometimes we need to play these matches where you know you are winning it easily and at the same time the match gets close, so we get to learn a lot from those games where we have to take singles, where we have to hit in the gaps."
"Rinku has done so well in IPL and then domestic matches. Coming here and playing against Australia, showing his calmness in the shots he played, he was superb," concluded Kishan.