Ishan Kishan: from honing his cricketing skills in MS Dhoni’s Ranchi neighborhood to starring in a match against Pakistan

Ishan was 12 years old when he moved to the SAIL neighborhood in Doranda, Ranchi. He shared an apartment with two kids twice his age. They cooked food and Ishan, who knew nothing about cooking, was given the task of cleaning the dishes, recalls Satyam. One day I asked him what was for dinner and he said: Chips and coke. That’s when I taught him how to make Maggi. Since then, it has become his staple diet.

Read a first-hand account from Venkata Krishna B of Pallekele on how Ishan Kishan performed on the big day against Pakistan

It was a rather unaccustomed job for him on Saturday when Ishan Kishan took to the field at number 5, but during his 82-point knock he showed that he can adapt to any position.

Satyam points out the reason why the process went so smoothly. He used to play cricket on a mat all the time, be it Patna or Ranchi. In Bihar and Jharkhand, only Jamshedpur had turf chips because Keenan Stadium was there. In Ranchi, the first turf wicket came at the JSCA International Stadium, which was inaugurated in 2013. He is not as elegant as some left-handed batters. He is not pleasing to the eye, but he is destructive and knows how to score runs. This is the DNA of Ranchi cricket. Mahi bhaiya bhi aise hi khelte tey (MS Dhoni used to play like that too), he said.

There is something like this in the Doranda area of Ranchi. Two Indian wickets were born in this area. One is former Indian national team captain and all-rounder MS Dhoni and the other is Ishan Kee.

Arun Vidyarthi, the Ranchi cricket coach who played a crucial role in Ishan’s move to Ranchi from Patna, says people at SAIL laughed at him when he said this kid could play for India one day.

Ranchi se ek Dhoni kaafi hai (One Dhoni from Ranchi is enough). They made fun of me. It’s not their fault either, they didn’t see him play. It took me a week to convince them that Ishaan is good. They said, Okay, we will give oone match. I remember he played the 7th place game and went undefeated with 28 points. That shot helped him get a contract with SAIL and a scholarship of Rs 3,000, says Vidyarthi.

Satyam and Monu made life easier for Ishan in Ranchi. Vidyarthi helped him get the contract. But it was Santosh Kumar, the cricket coach in Patna, who kept calling Vidyarthi and asking him to come and watch him play.

Bihar cricket was banned by the BCCI. There was no cricket in Bihar. When Arun Bhai called me one day that SAIL was looking for a batting wicketkeeper, I told him about Ishan. But he was not happy, citing his age. But when he came and saw him batting and holding the ball, he told me to bring him to Ranchi and I would take care of everything, recalls Santosh.

The adage to raise a child, it takes a village fits Ishan’s cricketing journey in the best possible way. He started his journey about 19 years ago when he joined the Bihar Cricket Academy along with his elder brother Raj Kishan at a cricketing Moin-ul-Haq Stadium in Patna. Uttam Mazumdar, who was the head coach of the academy, turned him down because of his young age. Raj insisted that he should let him play a few balls or else he would start crying.

I can’t believe I ever turned him down. Now look at him. What a hit he’s made. He has earned his place, said Mazumdar, who lives in Noida. I still think he should open the game or play the three, but this guy has the tenacity of a boxer. He will never back down, he added.

Ishan Kishan is no MS Dhoni and he still has a long way to go, but that knock in the game against Pakistan at number 5 surely triggered deja vu for Indian cricket fans. Someone from Ranchi has saved India from difficult positions many times and here is another from the same city, from the same locality who is showing promise.

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