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Kishan's confidence will be boosted by Caribbean show

By, Mumbai
Jul 25, 2023 07:48 AM IST

He has been good behind the stumps and his performance with the bat showed just how dangerous he can be

In his press conference before the second Test against West Indies at Port of Spain, one of the things that India captain Rohit Sharma spoke at length about was Ishan Kishan’s performance in the series opener at Dominica.

Ishan Kishan, of India, celebrates his half century during the fourth day of the second Test cricket match between India and West Indies at Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain.(AFP)
Ishan Kishan, of India, celebrates his half century during the fourth day of the second Test cricket match between India and West Indies at Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain.(AFP)

Sharma was effusive in his praise for the keeper-batter, who had made his Test debut replacing KS Bharat. Although Kishan got to face just 20 balls in the first Test and remained not out on one run off 20 balls, he was impressive with the gloves and earned the skipper’s approval.

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“Considering it was his first Test match, he (Kishan) kept really, really well,” Sharma had said. “On a pitch where it was turning, bouncing and staying low, it wasn’t easy to keep against (Ravichandran) Ashwin and (Ravindra) Jadeja. So, I was very impressed by his wicket-keeping skills.”

Kishan continued his good work behind the stumps and claimed three catches in West Indies’ first innings of the second Test. Just as importantly, he hadn’t dropped a single catch till the end of the penultimate day of the two-match series.

However, as has been the trend in Test cricket in recent times, solid wicket-keeping can’t assure you a spot in the side. Kishan had to stand up with the bat too and he did that in India’s second innings at the Queen’s Park Oval. The left-hander was promoted to No. 4 and slammed an unbeaten 52 off 34 balls to help his team declare in quick time and set West Indies a daunting target of 365.

“Ishan is a very talented guy,” Sharma had said before the match. “We’ve seen it in his short international career so far, he even hit an ODI double-century recently. So, the talent is there and we just have to bring it out by giving him opportunities. I’ve spoken with him clearly about how he is expected to play and given him full freedom to express himself.”

After registering his first half-century in Test cricket, Kishan thanked Rishabh Pant, whose absence has led to his entry in the side, for his guidance recently.

“I was practicing at the National Cricket Academy before coming here and Rishabh (Pant) was also there for his rehab,” Kishan told bccitv. “He just had a few pointers for me, he asked me about my bat position and everything. We have played so much together and know each other since our Under-19 days. He knows how I play, what my mindset is, so he just helped me a little bit. I also wanted someone to tell me a few things about my batting and it was a great time for him to come and chat with me. I’m really thankful for that.”

India’s next Test assignment will be in South Africa in the last week of the year. If Pant is unavailable even then, which seems likely at this point, it seems Kishan will remain the frontrunner for the keeper’s slot in the playing XI on the back of his performance in the Caribbean.

Before that, though, the confidence gained by the 25-year-old could benefit the Indian team in the white-ball leg of the Windies tour and even beyond that.

Kishan has had Sharma’s backing for some time now, with Mumbai Indians bidding a whopping 15.25 crore for him at the Indian Premier League 2022 player auction. But for a player, nothing matters more than the performances on the field and Kishan’s exploits in his debut Test series have come at just the right time.

With KL Rahul on the comeback trail from injury and Sanju Samson in-and-out of the side, Kishan will be hoping to continue his form as India build-up to the Asia Cup and ODI World Cup in the coming months

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