By Sandipan Banerjee
Nitish Rana is one of those typical Delhi (his domestic team) cricketers who carries a no-fear attitude on the field. As a batsman, he doesn't see the stature of the bowler and if the ball is in Rana’s zone, he’ll hit it. The 25-year-old has a compact technique as well as the maturity to use his skills to good effect.
In Kolkata Knight Riders’ IPL 2019 opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rana was supposed to bat at No. 4 but a finger injury to Sunil Narine meant that Chris Lynn needed a new opening partner. To keep the left-right combination going, Rana was the obvious choice and he didn’t disappoint. It was his 47-ball 68 which laid the platform for Andre Russell’s blistering 49* as the Knight Riders chased down 183 with six wickets and two balls to spare.
On Wednesday (March 27), Rana, batting at No. 4, hit his second consecutive half-century in the tournament. This time, he first steadied the ship alongside Robin Uthappa after the two-time IPL champions had lost Lynn and Narine early and after getting the measure of the pitch and Kings XI Punjab’s bowling, Rana showed why he is considered to be one of the most skilful batsmen in the domestic circuit.
"I batted at my usual position and my plan was clear. I will not let go any loose ball and that's what I did," Rana said in his post-match press conference after scoring a 34-ball 63 in the Knight Riders’ 28-run win over Kings XI Punjab at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday (March 27).
"[I] Didn't plan to go after the bowling right from the word go. Initially, I tried to build the innings. Was batting ball to ball. But when I felt, I can go after the bowling, I did that, irrespective of who was bowling. The left-right partnership between me and Robin [Uthappa] helped our cause.”
Interestingly, Rana found the going tough in the 2018/19 Ranji Trophy (191 runs in six matches) and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (147 runs in 10 matches). In the lead up to IPL, he checked into the KKR Academy in Mumbai. Rana said the conversations with the franchise's consultant Abhishek Nayar and captain Dinesh Karthik helped him clear his mind.
"I was pretty disturbed [by the lack of form]. I had so many things going on in my mind. But more than my technique, I worked on the mental toughness. I spoke to Abhishek bhaiya, and DK bhaiya. [The stint at the] KKR academy was quite helpful in that sense because I got one-on-one time [with them] ... I didn't work on batting as such, but the conversations I had helped me clear out my thoughts. I wasn't backing myself, I realised, and talking to these guys there helped me clear self-doubts. Now, I feel, I've become a better player."
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