Ishan Kishan Jumps ODI Openers’ Queue, but World Cup Spot Is Still Up for Grabs
Ishan Kishan scored a breathtaking double hundred in the final ODI against Bangladesh.
The Quint DAILY
For impactful stories you just can’t miss
India, it seems, has a problem at the top of the order in ODI cricket. It is a problem that most sides would love to be in, but in the case of India, this is now becoming plenty of problems.
There are two sides to this opening woe of India in ODI cricket. At one end is the old guard, the decade-old pairing of captain Rohit Sharma and his key partner Shikhar Dhawan. Together, this Dhawan-Sharma pairing has won many a bland ODI encounter for India on placid tracks.
But that was a story that served returns before the 2019 ODI World Cup. Since the conclusion of that competition, the landscape of short-form cricket has changed for good.
There have been at least three more editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL), countless other franchise T20 Leagues and the small matter of two T20 World Cups.
The concept of opening in short-form cricket has changed for good since then. The world has moved on and hence it will not do anymore if your openers prefer to see off the new ball and your enforcers strike towards the end of the innings.
Now you need openers who start off in a hectic fashion and ensure that the innings continues in that vein throughout. India is now therefore caught in a bind because at one end you have the old firm and at the other you have the fresh approach of the likes of Ishan Kishan.
Why Ishan Kishan Is a Unique Option for India
In the third and final ODI against Bangladesh, Kishan’s breathtaking double hundred gave an insight into what the future holds for India in the 50-over format. With captain Sharma out with an injury, and vice-captain Lokesh Rahul being pushed down the order in the 50-over format, Kishan’s double hundred has left the Indian think-tank with plenty on its plate.
Kishan can no longer be ignored post his match-winning effort because he batted with rare freedom that we have not seen from any Indian ODI opener in recent years. He is young, fearless, and prepared to take risks, which few Indian ODI openers have been able to demonstrate.
After his record-breaking effort, keeping Kishan out of the ODI line-up is a risk that no Indian selector or team management will ever want to take. But Kishan must jump the queue swiftly if he has to be considered to be a prime contender for the ODI opener’s role.
He must contend with the likes of veteran Dhawan, skipper Sharma and then the other young face in Shubman Gill. All the three offer different skill sets unlike Kishan:
Dhawan is the measured, happy-go-lucky opener who draws on tons of experience to bat at his own pace.
Skipper Sharma is a force in himself with his breathtaking record in the format.
Gill is graceful as he pushes the pace along elegantly.
Kishan is different to all the others in that he approaches the ODI format like it was a T20I and bats with the same freedom. With England setting the benchmark in the white ball formats, India has the perfect candidate to match their ferocity at the top of the order.
The double hundred at Chattogram does push Kishan up the pecking order, but we need to remember that it came in a dead rubber. The knock came when nothing was at stake for India or Bangladesh and the bowling was nowhere near as challenging as it was in the conditions at Mirpur.
Can Kishan Be a Multi-Format Cricketer?
The team management will also be mindful of that when they sit down with the new selection panel at the end of December 2022 to pick the squads for the white ball series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
In the next 12-18 months, it is likely that Hardik Pandya will lead a separate T20I squad with his own band of young fearless cricketers in series both at home and away. Kishan is a definite pick for that T20I squad, while the ODI squad will have a different outlook with the 2023 World Cup in focus. It remains to be seen if the team management and the new selectors will be bold enough to pick Kishan in both the ODI and T20I squads.
A decision to omit Dhawan from the squad just 10 months before the World Cup will require courage, which is rarely seen in Indian cricket. Dhawan was India’s ODI captain over the past 18 months when the T20I squad was away playing different series.
So, to junk him when the full squad was available would be tough on the veteran left-hander, but the returns have been poor for the Delhi man. He has hardly troubled the scorers and rarely plays any cricket between two ODI series to get into any kind of form.
Skipper Sharma cannot be touched because of his stature, while Gill offers a glimpse into the future with his easy-going approach, though he too needs to think big. With Rahul being given a specific wicket-keeping role in the ODI format, Kishan can easily slot in at the top of the ODI XI.
The fact that despite Kishan being present in the XI, Rahul kept wickets gives you an indication about what the thinking is with regarding the stumper’s role.
The other big contender, Rishabh Pant was mysteriously pulled out of the ODI series hours before the first game. The word is Pant has been clearly told that his role in the ODI XI is unclear and hence will not be the first choice anymore like he was since the end of the Brisbane Test of 2021. Before the Australia tour of 2020-21, Rahul was the designated white-ball ‘keeper but things changed after the Gabba miracle, thanks mainly to India’s muddled ‘mixing the format’ theory.
Time Is in Kishan’s Side
Kishan, therefore, is best placed to grab the opportunity that circumstances have presented him. He has plenty to offer at the top of the order, can keep wickets and is a left-hander which is quite a thing these days in Indian cricket. It remains to be seen if Kishan continues to deliver when opportunities come knocking because there have been many a slip between the cup and the lip in Indian cricket in the past.
Guys who seemed like definite selections for an ODI World Cup, have lost out at the last minute to obscure picks. So, with close to 12 confirmed ODIs before the World Cup, Kishan has plenty of time to showcase his talent and book his ticket for the mega event. If he fails in the run-up, then Kishan will have only himself to blame, because a red carpet has been laid out for him by the non-performing seniors and an outdated approach that needed rebooting.
Go grab it young man, such opportunities do not come knocking twice!
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)
Read and Breaking News at the Quint, browse for more from sports and cricket
Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.