Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Here's how U-19 cricket star Ishan Porel turned his life around

Ishan Porel
India's U-19 World Cup star Ishan Porel with his parents at Kolkata airport yesterday. The pacer claimed 4-17 against Pakistan. Pic/PTI 

When you have two professional kabaddi players in your family, who have represented the state and country, it's only natural that a young one in the same household will also take to the game. And that's exactly what Bengal resident Ishan Porel did as a kid. He didn't like it though, and made a timely switch to cricket and consequently contributed to India winning the U-19 World Cup in New Zealand recently. Porel's grandfather Subhash Chandra Pandey represented India and won gold in an international kabaddi tournament in 1954. His father Chandranath was also good at the sport and plied his trade at the national level. However, they never insisted that Ishan play kabaddi and left it to him to pick his sport.

Also Read: Ishan 'Pandya' Porel augurs well for India

No pressure
"Initially, I joined swimming, then table tennis and later started playing kabaddi. But I didn't quite enjoy any of these activities. I used to watch cricket on TV from an early age, and one day, I just happened to mention to papa (father) that I would like to go for cricket coaching. He agreed. Not once did he ask me why I was leaving kabaddi. So, that's how cricket happened," Porel told mid-day on the victorious U-19 team's arrival in Mumbai on Monday. Porel didn't have the perfect start to the tournament though.

He had an injury scare - when he hurt his left heel during India's first match of the competition, against Australia. "I thought I would not be able to play any further part in the tournament after that [heel injury] because a replacement bowler [Aditya Thakare] had been called and he joined the team too. I was disappointed. It was a very tough phase for me, but thankfully Rahul (Dravid) sir and Dr Anand Date [fitness trainer] supported me wholeheartedly. They first helped me overcome that stress and then slowly but surely worked on healing my injury and got me ready in time for the quarter-final," explained Ishan, who came back brilliantly in the tournament with 4 for 17 against Pakistan in the semi-final and crucial 2 for 30 to outclass the Australians in the final.

'Aggression is the key'
At 6 feet, 2, Porel is as fast and aggressive as they come. "I strongly believe in celebrating every wicket because, as a fast bowler, I feel aggression is the key. Just as I feel that it's only fair for me to walk back quietly to my run-up immediately after a batsman has hit me for a boundary, I believe it's important for me to celebrate a dismissal too," said Ishan, who lives in Chandannagar, about 50 kilometres from Kolkata. He has claimed 13 first-class wickets from three matches.

Also Read: Ishan Porel likely to miss Vijay Hazare Trophy due to foot injury

He is now eyeing the longest format. "For me, the longer format… Test cricket is most important and I'd like to focus on that. There is a huge difference between the level of first-class cricket and the U-19 World Cup. "Batsmen at first-class level are a lot more consistent. Many of them are playing international cricket so Test cricket is my ultimate goal," he concluded.

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