Mazumdar, just like he used to do with other students, asked Ishan to go to the nets and face a couple of deliveries. Watching a young Ishan batting with confidence, coach Mazumdar decided to take him under his wing.
Now, after almost sixteen years, Mazumdar was heard cheering “come on Ishan” while sitting in front of his television set at his residence, watching his student playing for the country and smashing the England bowling attack with ease.
The 22-year-old Ishan made his debut in the second T20I against England on Tuesday in Ahmedabad and smashed 56 runs off 32 balls, an innings which was studded with 5 fours and 4 gigantic sixes.
With this he also became just the second Indian batsman, after Ajinkya Rahane, to score a fifty on T20I debut. His tally of four sixes, in fact, is the highest for an Indian batsman on debut in a T20 international. He also walked away with the ‘Man of the Match’ award.
“It’s been a long journey. It’s sixteen years of hard work put in by Ishan and me. He has struggled a lot and put in a lot of hard work to reach this level. It was a proud moment for me to see him debut for India and play a match-winning knock. I was in front of the television set and watching him bat. I was in tears when he dedicated that knock to my father who passed away recently. I am going through a tough time, but his words made my day. He played an unbelievable knock,” Mazumdar told Timesofindia.com.
“He was five when he came to the Moin-ul-Haq stadium with his father. I took him to the nets and bowled a couple of deliveries to him. I realised he was talented and agreed to coach him. I told his father – ‘this guy is a prodigy’ and that he will go a long way,” he said.
VIRAT BROKE THE DEBUT NEWS TO ISHAN
Ishan was handed his debut cap by India captain Virat Kohli. Apart from Ishan, Mumbai batsman and Ishan’s Mumbai Indians’ teammate Suryakumar Yadav also made his debut, but he didn’t get a chance to bat.
Ishan was emotional and called his childhood coach and expressed his emotions and excitement.
“Ishan called me ahead of the match and said Virat bhai came and said you are making your debut today. He said ‘sir, I am so happy’. He was very emotional at that moment. After handing the debut cap, Virat asked him to address the team. I wanted to keep him grounded. I just said, everyone makes a debut but there are very few who make their debuts unforgettable,” Mazumdar further told TimesofIndia.com.
(Ishan started coaching under Uttam Mazumdar at the age of five)
“I told him to stay calm and be composed and relaxed. I told him – ‘you have faced world-class bowlers in the IPL and you have smashed them all over the park. So, go with the same mindset and intent.”
Ishan was adjudged ‘Man of the Match’ for his valiant half-century. The Jharkhand batsman dedicated his maiden MoM award to his childhood coach’s father, who passed away recently. “My coach’s dad passed away a few days back and this innings was for him,” Ishan had said during the post-match presentation.
“I was waiting for his call. He called me at 1 am. He was really happy. The first thing he said was – ‘Sir, I did it’. It was a huge tribute to my father. He was very close to my father.
“Ishan always loved my father. My father always blessed him. In 2019, Ishan came to my place after a domestic match and sat with my father. My father predicted that Ishan will play for India in 2021. And his words came true. That was a huge blessing,” Mazumdar said.
A DEBUT TO REMEMBER
When Ishan was batting on 42, he smashed England spinner Adil Rashid for back-to-back sixes to bring up his half-century.
After completing his half century though, Ishan forgot to raise his bat and acknowledge the crowd. It was Kohli, who was batting with him at that time, who told him to raise his bat.
Narrating the incident, coach Mazumdar said: “I asked about this over the phone. Ishan said ‘Sir I forgot to raise my bat after the half-century’. We were both laughing. He said ‘Virat bhaiya told me ‘bat to dikha’ (show your bat)’. Then he raised his bat and greeted the crowd.
“He also told me that when he reached 48 with a six, Virat said ‘Ishan, sambhaal ke’ (be careful, Ishan). He said ‘haan bhaiya’ (yes, brother) and showed a thumbs up to him. Off the very next ball, he again smashed a sixer to reach his half-century. Virat went up to Ishan and laughed while patting him on his head.”
(Virat and Ishan were involved in a match-winning partnership during the second T20I against England – AFP Photo)
ROHIT SHARMA’S ROLE IN ISHAN’S PROGRESS
Ishan plays under Rohit Sharma‘s captaincy in the Mumbai Indians team in the Indian Premier League. Ishan also opened the batting alongside Rohit during the last edition of the IPL.
In 14 matches Ishant played for Mumbai Indians last season, he scored 516 runs at an average of 57.33, including four half-centuries. He also narrowly missed out on a century when he was dismissed for 99 during a match against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“Ishan has got a lot of confidence from Rohit. He has played a lot of cricket under Rohit’s captaincy. Ishan has learned the art of playing fearlessly from Rohit. Rohit is his mentor and captain at Mumbai Indians. In the last IPL, Rohit gave him the opportunity to open the innings in the UAE. Rohit asked him to open alongside him. Rohit taught Ishan how to play fearless cricket. Ishan is fortunate to have a captain like Rohit,” Ishan’s childhood coach Mazumdar further told TimesofIndia.com.
(Ishan called his childhood coach at 1 am in the night after India won the second T20 international, and said “I did it, sir”. )
THE UNDER-19 DAYS AND THE COMPETITION
Ishan was the captain of the Indian team in the 2016 Under-19 World Cup. He led a team that had the likes of Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, and Khaleel Ahmed – all players who made their India debuts before him.
On being asked about the competition between the players who played together in the past, Ishan’s coach Mazumdar said: “They are good friends. They all respect each other. They have played cricket at the junior level together. The best part is that Ishan has spent more time in the domestic circuit in comparison with others. So he can handle pressure more than anyone else. It’s good competition. It is healthy because they are all talented cricketers. The more the competition, the more Ishan will mature. He shouldn’t lose his focus. That’s all.”
“Cementing a place in the Indian team is very tough and challenging. I have asked him to take it one step at a time. He is very young and has a long way to go. There is a lot of competition within the team, so he needs to proceed slowly and perform consistently,” he said.
“The best part is that Ishan, Washington, and Rishabh were all groomed under Rahul Dravid sir. He has polished these cricketers and the results are in front of us. All three are doing really well,” Mazumdar signed off.