Kolkata: Teenage wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan, whose 21-ball 62 helped Mumbai Indians (MI) thrash Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by a whopping 102 runs, credited the team’s backing for his success, saying it has helped him bat freely.
“It’s always good for a youngster to bat up the order and when your skipper and the franchise is backing you, it’s just about playing your game. I am comfortable batting anywhere,” Kishan told reporters at the post-match press conference on Wednesday night.
MI were 62 for 2 after nine overs when Ishan joined skipper Rohit Sharma at the crease. Rohit’s message to Kishan was pretty simple — “back yourself and attack”.
“Coach also said in the time-out that just be yourself, back yourself and that we needed some good hits today. Rohit bhai also said, ‘You can hit well, just look at the ball and get with the flow.’
“They knew if I remained there I could get a lot of runs. I just had to look at the ball till the last moment and keep it going,” the 19-year-old Jharkhand southpaw said.
It took Ishan 30 minutes to change the complexion of the game. From 72/2 after 10 overs, MI jumped to 144 in the 15th over.
Kishan and Rohit scored 82 for the third wicket in which the latter contributed just 18.
One of the highlights of Ishan’s innings came in the 14th over when he took on Kuldeep and smashed him for four successive sixes. The over saw 25 runs coming off it.
“Kuldeep is outgoing for me (bowls the delivery that turns away from me) but he loves to bowl the googly at me. I’ve played him earlier as well. So I knew he was trying to get the ball outside the off stump,” Kishan said about his plans to counter KKR’s left-arm spinner.
“My target was that if I get the ball in my arc, I would hit it out of the park. It was like ‘keep watching the ball’. If you get the ball, hit, otherwise you can go for a single as well. Rohit was batting with me, so there was no problem. I knew if I don’t score, he can cover up.”
MI have backed Ishan despite three ducks — two of them being first ball ducks — in the tournament so far.
In the early part of the tournament, he batted at No. 3 but has now been moved to No. 4 to accommodate Rohit in top three.
He started the tournament with a 29-ball 40 against Chennai Super Kings and then made 44 off 23 against Delhi Daredevils even as the team lost both the games. He knocked his first half-century off the season against Rajasthan Royals but the team slipped to another defeat.
Ishan was asked about state-mate and legendary former India captain MS Dhoni helping him.
“I also get lots of tips from Dhoni bhai. He’s a legendary player and keeps telling me that I can take time. I feel confident when these guys talk to me,” Ishan said.
MI, who are now in fourth position in the points table, take on struggling Rajasthan Royals next at home.
“Mumbai Indians love to bounce back,” Ishan said on the team stringing together three back-to-back wins on the spin after facing a series of reversals.
“When the team comes together and talk to each other, it’s about helping out each other. We know we have done mistakes in the previous matches. Now we are just backing and helping out each other. We are just thinking about one match at a time and putting up a good show.”