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Is Kishan Defying Dravid?

February 08, 2024 11:09 IST
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IMAGE: Will Ishan Kishan heed Head Coach Rahul Dravid's advice to play domestic cricket? Photographs: BCCI

Ishan Kishan is taking Coach Rahul Dravid head on as the Jharkhand wicketkeeper-batter continues to stay away from playing first class cricket.

Kishan had withdrawn from the Test series in South Africa in December due to mental fatigue after which he was not picked for the home T20I series against Afghanistan.

He could have been picked as the wicket-keeper for first two Tests against England but Dravid and the team management wanted him to play domestic cricket first which he didn't and was ignored by the selectors.

When quizzed about Kishan, Dravid had said last month that he needs to play domestic cricket to get back in contention for the Indian team.

'Absolutely no disciplinary issue. Ishan Kishan was not available for selection. Ishan requested for a break, which we agreed in South Africa. We supported it. He has not yet made himself available. When he is available, he will play domestic cricket and make himself available for selection,' Dravid said on the eve of the first T20I against Afghanistan last month.

The coach stuck to his stance after the second Test against England in Visakhapatnam last week when he was again asked for his views on Kishan's comeback. Dravid stated that the choice is with Kishan on whether he wants to play first class or stay out of the Indian team.

'Whenever he is ready, I didn't say he has to play domestic cricket; I said whenever he is ready... he needs to play some cricket and come back. The choice is his. We are not forcing him to do anything. We are in touch with him,' Dravid said at the post-match press conference in Visakhapatnam.

But Kishan also doesn't seem to be in the mood to heed Dravid's advice.

He has been training and practicing at the Kiran More Academy in Vadodarra, along with the Pandya brothers -- Hardik and Krunal -- for the past couple of weeks according to the Cricbuzz site.

There is no indication that the 25 year old is looking forward to playing a Ranji Trophy game for Jharkhand and getting himself back into Test contention.

With K S Bharat struggling with the bat and not so convincing with the gloves, Kishan would have been the frontrunner to take over the gloves in Test cricket but for that he needs to play a domestic match which he doesn't seem to be keen to.

'Lost in the right direction', he captioned his Instagram post last week.

It is important that the selectors and the BCCI back Dravid in this instance as this is a clear case of a player disrespecting not only the coach but also the dressing room ethos.

If Kishan, who is one of the star players for Mumbai Indians in the IPL, is allowed to have his way, then it could start a wrong precedent wherein young players would want to be picked on their reputation rather than their current form or fitness.

On the other hand, Kishan will also feel hard done by the lack of faith shown in him by the selectors and the team management. He got just one chance in World Cup 2023 when he made 47 against Afghanistan but never got another opportunity despite a good record in 50 overs cricket.

He hit two fifties in a row against Australia in the home T20I series in November but was not picked for a single T20I in South Africa with India preferring Jitesh Sharma don the gloves and play the finisher's role down the order.

But openly defying a legend like Dravid will not benefit Kishan. He is young and there is no doubting his cricketing abilities.

It was not so long ago that he stroked the fastest double century in ODIs, against Bangladesh in January last year.

The decision now rests with Kishan on whether he wants to heed the advice of one of India's greatest cricketers and work towards resurrecting his career or just be content playing the IPL.

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