IPL 2020: Kings XI Punjab's Ishan Porel looking for his big 'breakthrough' in debut season
- Although Porel is not the quickest in the business, his 6ft 3in frame helps him in generating the extra bounce and picking up wickets.
Porel went unsold during the auctions for IPL 2018 and IPL 2019. His IPL dream finally came true as he was picked up by KXIP for his base price of ₹ 20 lakh ahead of IPL 2020.
The journey of the talented youngster has been an interesting one, filled with many highs and lows. Like many other fast bowlers, the Hooghly-born player had his struggles with injuries in the past. During his early days, Ishan suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury, a partial tear in his left knee, a medial collateral ligament injury, as well as a side strain. However, the 21-year-old has worked well on his fitness since and reduced the frequency of injuries, that are effectively inevitable for any fast bowler.
Ishan has been splendid in the domestic circuit for the past three years. He was also a part of the Indian squad for the 2018 Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand and played a crucial role in the title-winning campaign, despite being injured for the majority of the group stage.
Also see – IPL 2020 Team
A heel injury forced Porel to retire in the tournament opener that was being played against Australia U19s. The budding player could have easily been sent back to India but he was given time to recover in New Zealand. With an unwavering will, Porel worked extra hard to recover as fast as he could and featured in the India U19s' quarterfinal against Bangladesh U19s after regaining fitness.
The spirited player could not manage to pick up a wicket on his return but still bowled a commendable spell. He was highly economical and gave away just 8 runs in the five overs he bowled at an economy rate of 1.60. India U19s defeated Bangladesh U19s rather comfortably, winning by 131 runs and progressing to the semifinals, where they took on Pakistan U19s.
This semifinal was undoubtedly a life-changing match for Porel. It led to his meteoric rise in the years to follow and also enhanced his confidence to a great extent. The Pakistani batsmen struggled against the lanky speedster. Porel made 4 scalps in 6 overs at an economy rate of 2.83. He dismissed openers Imran Shah, Muhammad Zaid Alam and also took the crucial wickets of batsmen Ali Zaryab Asif and Ammad Alam.
The youngster bowled two maiden overs against Pakistan U19s, who were bundled out for all but 69, and became an overnight sensation as India U19s stormed into the final after a mammoth 203-run victory.
Porel was potent in the final of the Under-19 as well. He chipped in with 2 wickets in 7 overs against the Australia Under-19s and India were triumphant. Overall, Ishan had a significant impact on all the World Cup matches that he played.
Another reason to watch out for Ishan Porel in the coming IPL season is his vast experience of playing in the domestic circuit. The youngster knows how he needs to adapt to different tracks in different cities. In his early days, the Hooghly-born player used to clock about 130 kmph but now he does around 140. That has surely made a difference and paid dividends.
A look at Porel's statistics in the domestic circuit will give you an understanding of his phenomenal capabilities. In the 14 T20s the youngster has played, Ishan has clinched 16 wickets at a mind-blowing economy rate of 6.11 and an effective strike rate of 19.5. His best figures in the format are 3/19.
In List 'A' cricket, Ishan has 41 wickets to his name in 25 matches at an economy rate of 4.87 and Strike Rate of 27.8. However, the Hooghly-born player has just been outstanding when it comes to First-Class cricket. Porel has made 60 scalps in 21 First-Class matches at an economy rate of 2.84.
The Bengal pacer also starred in The Deodhar Trophy final back in 2019. He picked up the wickets of Vijay Shankar, Nitish Rana, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Kedar Jadhav, and Parthiv Patel (he took 5/43 in his 10 overs) for India C. Although India B won by 51 runs, Porel's exquisite bowling was the highlight of the final. The most commendable aspect of Porel's game is his ability to consistently deliver results.
Whether it is his fast bowling, swanky hairstyle, or his signature 'You can't see me' (read imitating John Cena) celebration after taking a wicket, Ishan is a character on the field and sure to be a classy entertainer in the future.
In the absence of seasoned player Ashok Dinda, the young Ishan has handled the situation well and led Bengal's pace attack beautifully in 2019-20 Ranji Trophy. Bengal finished 2nd in Group A with 4 wins, a loss, and 3 draws.
Ishan has bowled approximately 23 overs in each Ranji Match this season. He also got KL Rahul (who will soon be his teammate at KXIP) out for a duck in the semifinal against Karnataka. The delivery came back sharply and was just the ball a bowler would like to bowl early on in the innings. It hit Rahul on the back leg, was plumb in front, and Rahul was walking back to the pavilion - out LBW - after facing just two deliveries.
Bengal bundled out Karnataka for 122 and 177 in the first and second innings of the semifinal, respectively. Much of the credit has to be given to Porel, who picked up a total of 7 wickets (5 during first innings and 2 in second) in the match. His spell of 4 for 50 against Andhra in December 2019 is another memorable one from the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy.
The talented bowler missed a few matches in the Ranji Trophy this season as was a part of the India 'A' team that played New Zealand in a three-match series in Christchurch. Here too, Porel was highly impressive. He made three scalps in the opening tour match against New Zealand XI and clinched a total of five wickets in the two unofficial ODIs against New Zealand 'A'.
Porel bowled economically and had the stats - 26 overs, 51 runs, and 1 wicket at an economy rate of 1.96 - in the first innings of the ongoing Ranji Trophy final that Bengal is playing against Saurashtra. He will be hoping to make an even bigger impact in the second innings.
The right-handed bowler has been the talk of the town ever since his heroics at the Under-19 World Cup. It was surprising that he went unsold during the IPL 2018 and 2019 auctions. Maybe something that was lacking was just a little bit of polishing. Now, with such tremendous performances in the recent past, Porel finally got picked up at the IPL 2020 Auctions.
The 21-year-old has been the go-to bowler for Bengal in the 2019–20 Ranji Trophy. However, he still might play second fiddle to Mohammad Shami and act as his backup option in the IPL.
Even KXIP Coach Anil Kumble had remarked after the auction that "He (Porel) is someone we had identified and he is a good back-up option for Shami. It's good to have a young Indian fast bowler in the ranks."
There is no doubt that KXIP already boasts of a potent squad and have a tremendous line-up. Opportunities for Ishan Porel may be few but one never knows with the IPL. Regardless, the speedster will definitely take a lot from his debut IPL season. He will be sharing the dressing room with some of the best in the business, including senior Bengal bowler Mohammed Shami. Getting guidance, learning tips and tricks from fellow KXIP players, few of whom have now got veteran status, will be a fantastic experience for Porel, one he will cherish for his entire life.
After wreaking havoc for the batsmen in the Ranji Trophy, Porel will look to win hearts by making the most of the opportunities (if any) he gets in IPL 2020. With the experience of the Under-19 World Cup and Ranji Trophy finals, Porel has also developed a mindset of performing under pressure.
While there will surely be butterflies in his stomach during his debut IPL match (if he plays any), it is safe to say that the player from Bengal will not crumble under pressure as he is used to big match situations.
Although Porel is not the quickest in the business, his 6ft 3in frame helps him in generating the extra bounce which draws out the edges. Add this with good accuracy and it is a recipe for a wicket-taking bowler - reason enough for KXIP's team management to test Ishan in at least a few matches.
Watch out for Porel in IPL 2020, as he is one of India's future prospects and might just leave an impact with his performances. He will surely be looking for a big 'breakthrough' in his debut IPL season.
Published 11 Mar 2020, 17:25 IST