Hefty IPL price tag restricting Ishan Kishan from his natural free-flowing hittings

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Ishan Kishan is having a lean patch in IPL 2022.

IPL

Hefty IPL price tag restricting Ishan Kishan from his natural free-flowing hittings

For the batters who have the full range of classical techniques with a great capacity to judge lengths, Ishan Kishan sits in the top half of the chart. However, after bagging an INR 15.25 crore contract from Mumbai Indians (MI) in the 2022 IPL mega auction, the swashbuckling 'keeper looks rattled.

Around two months ago, Ishan Kishan was quite a figure in Indian cricket. The 23-year-old became the most expensive buy in the history of Indian Premier League (IPL), courtesy of a record-breaking INR 15.25 crore bid by his beloved franchise Mumbai Indians (MI) during the 2022 mega auction. He, of course, has the image of a flamboyant youngster, and had played numerous ostentatious knocks for the five-time champions in the past.

Ahead of the IPL 2022, Rohit Sharma, the MI skipper, became the newly-crowned all-format leader of Team India. Because he would open with someone who has already attained an iconic status in world cricket, Ishan did not have much to worry about in his resumption.

The IPL 2022 for MI began not exactly like they would have liked to, but Ishan stepped into the full-time opener role in style. His unbeaten 48-ball 81 against Delhi Capitals (DC) was an enjoyable exhibition of stroke play. Nevertheless, it was no surprise from someone who raised the bar at a young age.

But Ishan was not at his fluent best in the MI’s next outing against Rajasthan Royals (RR). After coming to chase a gigantic target of 194, he took 43 balls to score 54 before being dismissed by his former teammate Trent Boult. It did not bring any joy to their supporters, as they closed on 170/8.

Next time, against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Ishan’s struggle at the crease was clearly visible. He lasted 21 balls for his 14 runs before being undone by Pat Cummins. Later on, Rohit’s juggernaut endured a hat-trick of defeats, with the recent coming from the side who had a 7-22 head-to-head record against their favour ahead of the fixture.

Unpredictably, the MI suffered defeats in their next five outings as well, extending the losing streak to eight – the worst by any side in IPL history. The scores of Ishan's in these contests read 28-ball 26, six-ball three, 17-ball 13, golden duck, and 20-ball eight.

Barring that astonishing knock in MI’s tournament opener, Ishan’s numbers have not been encouraging at all.

Ishan showed the world that he has got a wide range of brutal strokes during IPL 2022 as he aggregated 516 runs in 14 matches in that season, striking at 145.76. He made clean connections with the ball to hit 30 sixes in that campaign. It all helped the MI win the coveted trophy for the record-extending fifth time.

What happened to Ishan, the maverick, then? The man who used to manipulate the fielders and then hit the ball into the gaps with dazzling skills? All of a sudden, he has started to contribute middling returns. Yes, there are obvious reasons for his lean patch.

The MI saw enormous success with Quinton de Kock at the top alongside Rohit in the past couple of IPL editions. It allowed Ishan to play independently at No. 3, which brought in some audacious shots from his bat. But now, he has the responsibility to get his side off to a flyer, and Rohit’s poor form at the same time is not helping him either.

It is worth a mention that there were numerous players in IPL, such as Yuvraj Singh for Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals), Glenn Maxwell for Kings XI Punjab (now Punjab Kings), Jaydev Unadkat for Rajasthan Royals, Tymal Mills for Royal Challengers Bangalore, and many more, who struggled to match expectations after bagging million-dollar contracts from auctions. The price tag has always been a concern for the players, even if they disagree with the fact.

Ishan, without a doubt, will get better and better with time. But he needs to hit the refresh button now to get back to his best. Otherwise, with so many emerging talents waiting near the corner for a chance in the national colours, it would be difficult to keep his place in the T20 setup.

Now Ishan must enact the lessons he had learned. Or else it would be too late for good.

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