All-star of the match
There are teams that would re-examine their batting stocks when an uncapped Indian batsman makes three ducks, including two first-ballers, in the first half of a season that has fetched two wins in seven games. But Mumbai Indians aren't just any team. They are three-time champions and have had an impressive track record of integrating young and uncapped Indian players into their set-up. Going by the evidence of Ishan Kishan's second IPL half-century on Wednesday, it won't be an exaggeration to say he's well and truly left his mark on the season already.
When these two sides last clashed three nights ago, Kishan was held back as Mumbai sent in the Pandya brothers and JP Duminy ahead of him in the death overs. In the reverse leg at Eden Gardens, a game Mumbai simply had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, he came in with the team searching for momentum at 62 for 2 in nine overs. Thirty minutes and 34 balls later, he was gone. In between, he unleashed mayhem of the kind Kolkata Knight Riders may have not anticipated. While he blitzed 62 off 21, Rohit Sharma's contribution in the 82-run stand was a mere 18.
The turnaround came when he finished rookie Prasidh Krishna's 13th over with a four. In the following over, his four successive sixes off Kuldeep Yadav helped Mumbai seamlessly transition from looking for 160 to at least 200. By the time Kishan was gone, he had smashed the joint-fastest half-century in Mumbai's IPL history.
Fearless batting across formats is Kishan's USP - even his first-class highest of 273 came off just 336 balls courtesy 21 fours and 14 sixes. It's this big-hitting ability that got Mumbai stave off a fierce bid from Royal Challengers Bangalore to sign him for INR 6.2 crores (US$ 920,000 approx). The backstory of this mad bidding goes back to a training session at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai where Kishan, among three domestic wicketkeepers called up for trials, hit seven sixes in a practice match, all into the top tier on the leg side at a ground that is among the bigger ones in India. At Eden Gardens, he showed more than just glimpses of that monstrous six-hitting ability.
The wow moment
Kishan moves around the crease to throw bowlers off gear. But even in doing so, he manages to retain his balance and power most times. One such stroke off Kuldeep stood out. He had already smashed a six and gave him the charge again. Kuldeep saw this and fired it full and down leg. Kishan barely had time to readjust, yet astonishingly managed to not only get down on one knee but also get underneath the length and sweep him deep over backward square leg for six.
Kishan's 17-ball half-century is the joint-fastest fifty with Kieron Pollard in Mumbai's IPL history. It is also the second-fastest this season.
Four of his five sixes - all on the leg side - came off Kuldeep.
He scored 90.32% of runs in boundaries - 56 off 62.
Kishan's Smart Strike Rate was 470.00, his knock was worth 36 runs more.
What they said
"All the seniors told me was 'back yourself and play however you play.' Today was my day, I just wanted to watch the ball closely and keep smacking them."
Ishan Kishan reveals what was asked of him