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Match Analysis

Prithvi Shaw and Ishan Kishan, minimalist and maximalist

Their contrasting methods, both utterly devastating, gave India a glimpse of an exhilarating ODI future

Saurabh Somani
"They were bowling some good balls which I converted into boundaries." That was Prithvi Shaw at the post-match presentation, after India had romped to a seven-wicket win with 80 balls to spare against Sri Lanka.
Shaw had jump-started a chase of 263 as if India had to get them in 20 overs and not 50. Ishan Kishan, on debut, made more runs and wasn't tardy either, with a 42-ball 59. Shikhar Dhawan top-scored, anchoring the chase smoothly with 86 not out off 95. And yet, it didn't feel out of place that the Player-of-the-Match award went to Shaw for his 43 off 24 balls. The remarkable aspect of India's chase was, it would have felt just as right if it had gone to Kishan.
A right-hand opener from Mumbai with a Test century on debut, Dhawan, and a left-hand batter earmarked for bigger things since his days as Under-19 captain. That was India's top three. Not Rohit Sharma, Dhawan and Virat Kohli - this was Shaw, Dhawan and Kishan.
Shaw and Kishan might never fill the big boots their batting positions have been occupied by for so long and with such success. But that isn't the expectation placed on them either, anyway. They came with license to thrill, and delivered on that promise spectacularly.
India's chase was done in 36.4 overs, and both Shaw and Kishan were out less than halfway through it, but the memories of this game will be formed by their batting. Shaw was all pristine timing, seemingly finding the boundary without even trying to. Kishan, on the other hand, was very visibly trying to find the boundary, and succeeding.
When Shaw gets his bat flowing smoothly, the runs come almost effortlessly. One of his checked drives to a Dushmantha Chameera slower ball raced to the long-off boundary. He didn't have pace on the ball to work with, he had virtually no follow-through, and yet he found the boundary. Pure timing. In his first 22 balls, Shaw hit nine fours. And it would be ten in 23 balls if you attribute the bouncer that rattled his helmet and went for leg-byes to him too.
It was glorious, I-don't-care-what-the-target-is-I'm-having-a-net batting. Within five overs, Shaw had driven India to 57 without loss. An outstanding score in a T20 start. The kind of ODI start you want when your team is chasing 350-plus. A ridiculous shutting out of the opposition when the target is 263.
With Sri Lanka already pounded by Shaw, Kishan came out and enjoyed the most glorious first two balls anyone could have wished for. Skip, dance, swing, six. Lunge, transfer weight, lash, four. He might be the only player in ODI history to have seen his career strike rate dip by a 100 points, from 600.00 to 500.00, in one ball, despite hitting it to the boundary.
Where Shaw's economy of movement caught the eye, Kishan's extravagance was the kind you couldn't tear your gaze away from. He seemed to be operating in a crease that was twice the normal size, twinkling down the track as frequently as he stayed put, swishing his bat in arcs well away from his body. If Sri Lanka had only a glimmer of still making a contest of this game post-Shaw, Kishan stomped on those hopes forcefully.
Shaw might have got runs without going looking for them. Kishan went looking, and was just as successful.
It was exhilarating batting because this has not been India's start-of-innings template for the most part in ODIs. Not that they have been slow - they couldn't have been and had so much success in the format - but the prototype of an Indian innings is one that gathers steam. This one began with an explosion.
The lull that followed Kishan's wicket was brief, the pace picking up again when Suryakumar Yadav - also on ODI debut - walked in at the fall of the third wicket.
"I was telling them to take it easy actually," a beaming Dhawan would say after his captaincy career got off the blocks with an emphatic win. "The way these young boys play in the IPL, they get lots of exposure and they just finished the game in the first 15 overs only. I thought about my hundred but there were not many runs left. When Surya came out to bat, I thought I need to improve my skills!"
All said with a guffaw and disarming candor. Taking it easy is not the natural style of Shaw or Kishan. Or Suryakumar for that matter. In a year that will have the T20 World Cup, this frenetic approach in ODIs might not be a bad idea.

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo