Learning from the master

Young, fearless, dashing, spunky, wicketkeeper, hard-hitting, Jharkhand: a decade ago, these 'keywords’ were synonymous with MS Dhoni. Now, they apply to Ishan Kishan.

All of 19, the left-hander is the toast of the VIVO IPL. What a knock it was against the Knight Riders at their own backyard! Nobody hits Kuldeep Yadav for four consecutive sixes. Kishan does, apparently. The last of those big hits he produced in that over was a helicopter shot! And it sure did MSD proud.

Here's the thing: like the whole of India, Kishan admires Dhoni. He hails from the same state, performs the dual role of batting and wicketkeeping. Even his approach to the game is so reminiscent of the greatest captain of Team India.

There are reasons, after all. Dhoni has been mentoring Kishan for a few years now. Whenever he gets the time, Dhoni makes it a point to spend time with the Jharkhand team ahead of important domestic assignments like the Ranji Trophy (first-class), Vijay Hazare Trophy (one-day) and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (T20) - the three annual inter-state tournaments organised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Understandably, Kishan picks Dhoni's brains whenever he gets the opportunity. And Dhoni is always ready to share his knowledge with youngsters and contemporaries alike.

Soon after the Chennai Super Kings-Mumbai Indians game in Pune two weeks ago, Dhoni gave Kishan a crash-course in the art of collecting the ball. Kishan had fumbled in the game and Dhoni was batting at the time. It was so heartening to see Dhoni dishing out advice and Kishan standing in rapt attention.

On Wednesday, Kishan acknowledged the help he has received from Dhoni. “Obviously he (Dhoni) is also from Jharkhand, so I am learning a lot from him. Whenever we meet, he gives me a lot of tips,” Kishan said in an interview to iplt20.com.

Speaking about the helicopter shot, Kishan said, “I’ve practised that shot in the nets. If I get a yorker-length ball like this, then I know what I should do. So that was the plan.”

Kishan has a wise head on his shoulders. He doesn't get carried away. And he knows that the job is not done yet. He thinks before he speaks. That is so very important.

“Getting runs when your team needs you is crucial. It's always a good moment for a youngster. We get to learn a lot from such innings. That's the best part of the VIVO IPL,” he said, adding that he was prepared to play a special knock. “I was waiting for this knock. I was prepared. I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to build my innings. This is a good confidence-booster for me.”

And he has a great sense of humour, too. Asked what he intended to do upon reaching the team hotel, Kishan said, “Frankly speaking, I’m very hungry right now. I haven’t eaten anything. Whenever I get free from here, I’ll go straight for dinner.”

Kishan has the full backing of the Mumbai Indians team management. Skipper Rohit Sharma had the best seat in the house when Kishan went about his business at the Eden on Wednesday. Upon reaching his fifty, Kishan got a big hug from Sharma. The captain also used his bat to pat Kishan on the head, sorry helmet.

Add to this his strong bond with Dhoni, and you know Kishan is in safe hands. And on the right track, of course. Keep going, boy!



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