Ishan Kishan has a double century to his name in ODI cricket. But such has been the talent pool of the Indian team, especially in terms of batting, that the youngster could only find a place in the squad for the 2023 Asia Cup tournament as a back-up option. Ishan was hence never slated to be part of the XI for the blockbuster match against Pakistan on Saturday with Star Sports releasing footages of KL Rahul’s intense training session as a batter and a wicketkeeper. But a week after the squad announcement in New Delhi for the continental event, Ishan was elevated to the main XI after India decided to not take a risk on Rahul’s injury concern. On Saturday, as the top order struggled against Shaheen Shah Afridi with India going four down in quick time, Ishan stood tall with his valiant knock of 82 runs. (India vs Pakistan Live Score, Asia Cup)
The sole question leading to the Asia Cup opener for India was Ishan’s batting position. Given his prowess as an opener, his record at No. 4 in the format and inexperience at No. 5, the debate centered around India’s plan against the Pakistan attack.
When the team list was finally announced after captain Rohit Sharma won the toss, Ishan was listed at No. 3 for India in the batting order. But with Shaheen’s new-ball burst after the first rain delay, Ishan was demoted to No. 5. And while most would have looked to negate the likes of Shaheen and Haris Rauf, Ishan attacked them, playing his natural game as he reached his fifty in 54 deliveries.
It was his fourth consecutive fifty for India in the ODI format after scores of 52, 55, and 77 in the West Indies series where he had opened for the team. Ishan, who batted at No.5 for the first time in his ODI career, also became the ninth Indian batter to register a 50-plus score in his maiden appearance in the format against Pakistan and only the second left-hander after Yuvraj Singh.
En route to his 81-ball knock of 82, which eventually was ended by Haris, Ishan played a key role in reviving India from 66 for four at the start of the 15th over to 204 for five in the 38th over. He was also involved in a record 135-run stand alongside Hardik Pandya, the highest fifth-wicket stand for India in an ODI match against Pakistan.
With his eventual score, Ishan also shattered the legendary MS Dhoni’s record for highest score by an Indian wicketkeeper-batter in an Asia Cup match against Pakistan. The former India captain held the record for his knock of 76 in a match back in 2008.
Ishan rings alarm bells for KL Rahul ahead of World Cup
With Ishan scoring a masterful 82 at No. 5 where few had given chances to the youngster, it has sent a warning to Rahul to continues to rehabilitate from the fresh niggle he incurred just days before the Asia Cup selection.
Despite showing improvements in the six-day training camp India held before Asia Cup, Rahul stayed back in Bengaluru to work with the physios of the NCA on his injury. He will later undergo a fitness test on September 5, at the end of India’s group-stage matches, before the team takes a call on his travel to Sri Lanka for the Asia Cup.
However, the question will then remain whether India would want to make that change in the middle order if they make the Super Four stage of the competition.