It has been an impressive few months for 21-year-old Ishan Porel following repeated struggles against injuries at the beginning of his promising career. His raw pace and ability to generate bounce even from a docile track left junior squad selectors impressed as he found himself en route to New Zealand in 2018 for the Under-19 World Cup. And he returned as a World Cup winner. Two years hence, he has already represented India A in two unofficial Tests in the land of the kiwis, bagged an IPL contract with Kings XI Punjab and eventually wrapped up the season with an impressive wicket tally in the Ranji Trophy 2019/20 season.
Following the magnificent run, Porel, in an exclusive chat with India TV Sports Digital, talked about no-cricket amid coronavirus pandemic, his Ranji season, the hope of an India call-up and taking up the challenge of bowling to Indian skipper Virat Kohli.
Still in the Ranji hangover?
No actually. Right now corona hangover is going on. We cannot go anywhere. We are stuck in our room. So no cricket practice anymore, everything is closed. We can't even go to the gym in a bid to take precautions. For now, safety measures are more important than going to the gym.
Earlier this month, coach Arun Lal, impressed with your form, said that you can now dismiss big batsmen like Virat Kohli. And you got KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari in the Ranji Trophy. What do you have to say about that? Was there a specific plan involved?
Before and after practice, we have video sessions regarding the match where we discussed the various bowling tactics. And for every batsman, we had a specific plan. But more importantly, we need to execute things properly in the middle regardless of whether it was KL Rahul or Hanuma Vihari. Yes, they do have some areas where we need to target. to get them out. But for me, when I was in the field, I felt like I was bowling to any other batsman.
Would you like the challenge of bowling to Kohli?
Actually I had read about Arun Sir's statement next day in the paper when someone had texted me the same. Obviously I would love to bowl to Kohli. He is right now the greatest batsman to our era. It would be a dream moment for me as a youngster or as a growing cricketer.
Bengal was without Ashok Dinda this season, the highest wicket-taker for Bengal over the last six seasons. There was no Shami either this time around. What was the pace plan for Bengal? What advice did Ranadeb Bose give?
I played only the first three league games and then went to New Zealand for the India A series. But as a unit, they have performed very well, we constantly backed each other and enjoyed each other's success. Our story was somewhat the same as that of our Indian pace attack and the immense success they have enjoyed recently. We were especially happy with the fact that as a unit we were able to take 20 wickets, much more than our personal achievements.
You were sort of a defacto pace leader in Dinda's absence. How was the responsibility? Did you get any word of advice from him?
Before the Karnataka semifinal, he had called us up and advised as to bowl with discipline and not over attack them. And he is always there to help us out and even asked us to call him anytime. He is like an elder brother to us. And about being the 'defactor leader', I never thought on those lines. Our main aim was to take those 20 wickets.
Two years back you were looking to impress the junior squad selectors and was picked for the U-19 team, now you have already come into the radar of the senior team selectors having already toured New Zealand with India A team. How has the journey been?
It has indeed been a tough journey. In this short period, I have incurred many injuries and subsequently suffered setbacks. Like for my knee injury, I was out for five or six months. I even had a stress fracture on my left upper rib. During World Cup U-19, I had twisted my ankle. So injuries have been a major challenge for me and it has helped me become a better bowler. Besides, my parents, coaches and friends have always been there to push me.
Albeit still in doubt, how important will this IPL season be for you having been snubbed twice earlier?
All youngsters need a platform. and IPL provides us with that. Nothing would be better for me than a good performance in the IPL season. And I hope I get a good amount of chances to prove myself.
Earlier last month, Kohli said that Team India is looking to add more depth to their pace lineup. You have that swing factor in your bowling that can give you an edge. Does this give you any hope?
Obviously there is hope, especially if you keep performing consistently. And today, we have a lot of pace bowlers in the competition. So I would rather concentrate on the process, which has brought me so far, than on the result. And for that, I need to take a lot of wickets.