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After MS Dhoni, Jharkhand’s long wait for its next star in Indian cricket team continues

While players such as Saurabh Tiwary and Varun Aaron came up with promise from Jharkhand, following the footsteps of MS Dhoni, they fell by the way side. Two upcoming players, Ishan Kishan and Shahbaz Nadeem are hoping to emulate the former Indian skipper and make it big in Indian cricket.

india vs australia 2017 Updated: Oct 05, 2017 15:42 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
India vs Australia,IND vs AUS,MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni, arguably the most successful Indian cricket team skipper of all time, was the first, and so far the only player to come out of Jharkhand and make it big in the international arena. (Getty Images)

MS Dhoni’s rise to the top echelons of Indian cricket started a new trend in the sport. More players from smaller towns -- talented players such as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami -- became important fixtures in the national team.

MS Dhoni’s own state cricket team Jharkhand, too, was among the inspired, winning the national one-dayers - - the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2010-11. For the first time, Jharkhand reached Ranji Trophy semifinals last season.

Jharkhand’s presence in the national side, however, has mostly been limited to MS Dhoni. Several players showed promise but are now on the sidelines. The most prominent among them is Jharkhand’s Ranji Trophy captain Varun Aaron.

Missed opportunities

Aaron was tipped to be the new super speedster of Indian cricket but fitness issues and poor bowling economy have seen him out of the national team for the last two years.

Saurabh Tiwary, with long locks like Dhoni (from his early days), was seen as another player who could make it big, but he faltered too.

While the 27-year-old Aaron got nine Tests and nine ODIs, Tiwary played only three ODIs. Both were part of the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) but failed to leave a mark.

Several pacers came after Aaron, with the recent one being Jasprit Bumrah, and have shown more consistency.

Fresh prospects

Shahbaz Nadeem and Ishan Kishan are two names who have been part of the India A set up in recent times and are seen as those who can make it big at the top level.

While left-arm spinner Nadeem, 28, has been a consistent performer for Jharkhand as well as Delhi Daredevils, wicketkeeper-batsman Kishan was the captain of India U-19 team at 2016 Under-19 World Cup, where his team finished runner-up to the West Indies.

Kishan particularly could get a call-up as there are only few candidates to be Dhoni’s back-up in the national ODI and T20I teams.

Dhoni, the inspiration

Kishan, the wicketkeeper-batsman, said the career of Dhoni gives them confidence.

“His rise to the top from a place which had little cricket history earlier is inspirational,” he told Hindustan Times. “Whenever he is with the Jharkhand team, he spends time talking to us. More than technicalities he talks about keeping a positive mindset in pressure situations. What he achieved is phenomenal. For us, it’s confidence booster that he went to the biggest stage from here.”

The improved facilities have also played its part, said the 19-year-old Kishan.

“The facilities have improved a lot in Jharkhand cricket. International matches are being staged at the JSCA stadium and we have an indoor facility too. The stage fright of playing at a big stadium is gone. We can now train at all conditions, even when it’s raining,” he said.

So, what does it take to graduate successfully from the domestic corridors to international cricket, like how Dhoni did?

“I believe the basic style of playing remains the same. At a higher level, one can only excel by playing to one’s strengths. But one needs to make full use of the chances that come,” Kishan says.

Jharkhand cricket is eagerly waiting for the next generation to do that, and emulate its biggest star, the great MS Dhoni.

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 15:29 IST