For the longest time, Ishan Kishan, despite having represented India ‘A’, had never been spoken about as a realistic red-ball contender but with Rishabh Pant out with injury, the southpaw received a shock call-up last week after being named in the squad for the first two Tests against Australia.
Kishan’s first-class statistics are not eye-catching — 38.76 average with 6 hundreds in 48 games — and he’s not played more than 5 red-ball encounters in a calendar year since 2018, but, in the absence of Pant, the 24-year-old has been fast-tracked into the Test set-up owing to the x-factor he possesses. In the management’s eyes, he is someone who could prove to be a point of difference.
Kishan, thus far, has been synonymous with white-ball cricket, but speaking to Shubman Gill on bcci.tv, the youngster revealed that he loves red-ball cricket no less.
"I love playing with the red ball,” Kishan told Gill in a video posted on BCCI’s Twitter account.
“There is a bit of swing, there is sledging and lots of time [there is] no pressure to score runs. The situations are sometimes easy and sometimes tough. So I enjoy all those scenarios in Ranji Trophy."
Kishan, who led India in the 2016 U19 World Cup, made his red-ball debut for Jharkhand at the age of 16 but after making 32 first-class appearances as a teenager, he’s only managed 16 in 5 years since the turn of 2018, primarily due to transitioning into a white-ball specialist of sorts.
But someone no stranger to high intensity cricket, having played in both the IPL and the T20 World Cup, the 24-year-old acknowledged that playing Tests is a ‘big deal’ and asserted that it is the format that brings out a player’s ‘real skill’ and ‘real game’.
"When I was playing white-ball cricket, my father used to say Tests are the real deal where the batter is challenged and their skill is put to test. It is a big deal to play Test cricket.
“When I got to know of my selection in India's Test squad I was elated and called home [to give the news], because there are so many good players…
“Test cricket is considered to bring out your real skill and real game. I will try to win games for India if given a chance.”
Kishan’s identity in white-ball cricket is a ‘dasher’ — someone who takes on the bowling from the get go — and in a way, he’s been picked in the Test squad as the management see him as a very effective counter-puncher. But despite his reputation of being an aggressor, Kishan vowed to not be reckless or one-dimensional. The key in Tests, he acknowledged, is playing the situation.
"With experience, I know it is not about fours and sixes [in red-ball cricket] but about getting the team in a good situation," Kishan said.
"If the ball is in my zone and the field is up then I will try. But if the bowling is good, I will look to respect it.
"I think the position where I bat - at No. 6 - in the longer format, it is very important [for me] to read the situation. If we are not in a good situation and if I play a rash shot, it will let the team down.”