Needed break or clash of egos – What’s happening with Ishan Kishan?

Ishan Kishan is currently not part of the Indian Test squad (Photo: RevSportz)

Where is Ishan Kishan? What is happening with the left-hand wicketkeeper-batter? Why is he not part of the Indian Test squad for the ongoing five-Test series against England? Why is Kishan not playing the Ranji Trophy for Jharkhand? These are some of the questions that Indian cricket fans are asking as the lack of clarity regarding Kishan’s immediate future in international cricket continues to be a hot topic.

After India’s series-levelling triumph over England in Visakhapatnam, the spotlight turned to the absence of Kishan, who had taken a break from cricket, skipping the two-Test series against South Africa. Rahul Dravid, India’s head coach, shed light on the situation, emphasising that the management respected Kishan’s decision to take a break and that there was no extra pressure on him.

As far as Kishan is concerned, it is understood that he was unhappy when India picked Jitesh Sharma in the playing XI in the T20I series against South Africa, making him warm the bench once again. Notably, Kishan played only two of the 11 matches in the ODI World Cup, and scored 58, 52 and 0 against Australia in the T20I series that followed the showpiece event. Though there was mental and physical fatigue from the constant travel and pressure of the World Cup, Kishan was expecting to start against the Proteas, but he did not.

“There’s a way back for anyone and everyone,” said Dravid with reference to Kishan. “It’s not that we rule out anybody from anything. I just don’t want to go on labouring the Ishan Kishan point. I’ve tried to explain it as best as I can. The point was that, you know, he requested a break. We were happy to give him the break and whenever he was ready… I didn’t say he has to play domestic cricket. I said, whenever he’s ready, he needs to play some cricket and come back, and the choice is his.

“We’re not forcing him to do anything, and we are in touch with him. It’s not that we’re not in touch. We know what it is, but he hasn’t yet started playing, right?”

Dravid clearly stated that Kishan needed to play “some cricket and come back”. The only cricket tournament that is going on besides the India-England Tests is the Ranji Trophy. However, Kishan has had no communication whatsoever with Jharkhand State Cricket Association. Having won just once in five matches, Jharkhand play their last Ranji Trophy group stage match against Haryana from February 9 in Jamshedpur. Kishan, once again, will not be part of the side. While some have been miffed with his social media activities like posting party photographs and videos, many within the circuit are clear that a player is free to spend his time as he wants when he is on break.

“We don’t know what his current status is,” a senior Jharkhand Cricket Association official told RevSportz. “We were expecting him to play Ranji Trophy matches for Jharkhand, but never received a call or any communication from him. I read Rahul Dravid’s statement that the senior team management has asked him to play some sort of cricket before playing for India again. Only Ranji Trophy is going on, so the message is clear. If you have to ask me, Ishan should have played a couple of Ranji matches.”

With Rishabh Pant sidelined due to injury, India are exploring other wicketkeeping options in the series against England. KS Bharat, KL Rahul (who kept wickets in South Africa), and Dhruv Jurel were the chosen wicketkeepers for the first two Tests. Bharat, in particular, made a notable impact in Hyderabad with fighting knocks of 41 and 28. However, his tendency of throwing away his wicket after getting a start, and his dismissals in the Vizag Test have left many frustrated. His loose shot in the second innings opened the door for England to target the tail, with India eventually bowled out with a lead of 398. His Test average of 20.09 has meant minimal impact on India’s batting unit.

The absence of Kishan and the performances of Bharat raise questions about the wicketkeeping dynamics for the upcoming matches. It won’t be a surprise if Indian team management decides to hand Jurel his Test cap in the upcoming Tests against England. In the case of Kishan, it would be best if all parties sit together and outline what is the best course of action for the future.

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