Days after India head coach Rahul Dravid emphasised that Ishan Kishan “needs to play some cricket”, not necessarily domestic cricket, in a bid to return to the Indian squad, irrespective of the format, it has been reported that a BCCI official has instructed the wicketkeeper-batter to play in Jharkhand’s final Ranji Trophy league game against Rajasthan later this week.
Ishan has not played for India since November last year and took a break in the middle of the South Africa tour, reportedly due to mental health fatigue.
Earlier this month, after India beat England in the second Test in Visakhapatnam to level the five-match contest at 1-1, Dravid, for the second time in over 30 days, was asked about Ishan’s possibility of coming back soon. “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,” he said. “We are in touch with him, it is not that we have not been in touch.”
This was also the second time Dravid had stressed the need for some game time for Ishan in a bid to return to the Indian side. Yet, the 25-year-old has been reluctant to participate in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season, where his state team is languishing near the bottom of the group A table. Ishan was instead spotted training with newly-announced Mumbai Indians captain Hardik Pandya in Baroda. The move irked BCCI officials, who feel Ishan’s focus has been on IPL 2024 rather than the domestic first-class competition.
In the wake of discussions in the BCCI to make a minimum number of Ranji Trophy games mandatory for every player to be eligible for IPL’s auction pool, a PTI report revealed that board officials instructed Ishan to play Jharkhand’s final league game in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season, which begins on February 16 at the Keenan Stadium in Jamshedpur.
The Ranji Trophy match will be Ishan’s final opportunity to get some game time, with the following possible appearance being in IPL 2024 for Mumbai Indians. Even the Indian team, in the middle of a Test series against England at home, will be out of action between March 11 and the start of IPL.