When India’s under-19 squad will travel to Bangladesh for the World Cup, the team’s reins will be in the hands of 17-year-old Ishan Kishan.
The wicketkeeper-batsman from Patna, Bihar, was picked as the leader of a breed of cricketers who are expected to form the core of the senior team in the years to come. With players like Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli crediting their claim to fame to the under-19 days, Ishan has all the reasons to feel proud about leading a group that includes the likes of prolific batsman Armaan Jaffer and allrounder Sarfaraz Khan.
News 18 talked to Ishan’s elated family and coach after his selection for the prestigious tournament.
Dhoni and Gilchrist are his idols
Just 17, Ishan idolises Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Adam Gilchrist, since he is of the same wicketkeeper-batsman ilk and bats left-handed like the Australian great. “You can call him a mixture of Dhoni and Gilchrist. In front of the stumps, he bats like Gilchrist while behind he is as firm as Dhoni,” said his coach Santosh Kumar.
Likes to take on spinners
Ishan believes in taking on the spinners. “His foot work against spinners is impeccable, which you see with all successful batsmen. Besides hitting the ball out of the park, Ishan is very fond of playing the pull shot,” Santosh told News 18.
He likes to open
Before leading Team India, Ishan has led his school and club teams as well. Besides keeping wickets, he opens the batting; and after negotiating the pace bowlers, he likes to up the ante against slow bowlers, especially spinners.
This is not the first World Cup for Ishan
Ishan has previously led his school team at the School World Cup in Aligarh when he was just seven. His coach from his early days in cricket, Santosh said, “During that School World Cup, Ishan’s team travelled till the Super-8 stage before making an exit.”
Ishan’s family has a special role in making him a cricketer. “Right from his childhood, we never stopped Ishan from playing or watching cricket. Accompanying elder brother Raj to cricket grounds, when Ishan decided to become a cricket we never came to know. Raj also always appreciated and pushed his efforts,” said proud father, Pranav Pandey, who is a builder by profession.
But mother was always worried
Only Ishant’s mother was slightly annoyed with his cricket. “Because cricketers from Bihar never had a bright future, it made his mother worried. But when he switched to Jharkhand with his own efforts, the mother’s worries as well as annoyance disappeared,” said Ishan’s father.
A friend suggested him to leave Bihar
Learning his cricket on the streets of Patna, today Ishan plays for Jharkhand as well as Team India. Before Bihar Cricket Association’s registration issues with the BCCI and Bihar politics could affect his cricket, one of Ishan’s seniors advised him to play for Jharkhand instead. And he has never looked back since, now playing for Jharkhand for three years.
Had to leave school for cricket
Like many successful cricketers, Ishan too faced difficult in managing both studies and cricket. His father and coach said because of short attendance he had to leave a good school like the Delhi Public School (DPS). “But despite being forced to quit his school, Ishan didn’t stop playing cricket,” they said. Currently Ishan is a student of XIth standard in Patna’s College of Commerce.
Ishan will never ignore playing for Jharkhand
The proud family understands how big a role Jhakhand has played in their son’s rise as a cricketer. Relatives and neighbours have joined in the success parties at Ishan’s home, but everyone believes he will never ignore playing for Jharkhand despite being India Under-19 captain.
A big brother’s sacrifice
The elder brother, who held his sibling’s hand to cricket grounds, sacrificed his own cricket ambitions to promote his brother. Talking to News 18, Raj, who is now studying medicine, said: “Of the two of us, only could pursue cricket, so I felt it’s better to support and promote Ishan because he showed a lot of promise and today fulfilled it by becoming an India captain.”