Born on 27th December, 1993, Nitish Rana, a left-handed batsman started his career playing for the Delhi cricket team in the domestic tournaments. While growing up, he played alongside players like Mithun Manhas, Rajat Bhatia and Shikhar Dhawan in various cricket camps.
Rana had a great Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament in 2015/16 season and was an important member of the Delhi team which made it to the semi-finals. He hit the most tournament sixes when he hit 21 sixes in the tournament, 8 of which came in a quickfire 40-ball 97 against Andhra Pradesh. Based on his performance, Rana was picked up in the 2015 IPL auction by the Mumbai Indians for 10 Lakhs and made his debut one year later against Royal Challenger Bangalore. He continued his form and hit a 36-ball 70 against Gujarat Lions in Mumbai’s last IPL match of 2016.
When Mumbai Indians began their campaign in IPL 10, their fans hoped that skipper Rohit Sharma and West Indian powerhouse Kieron Pollard would be their key players. But after three games, both Rohit and Pollard are yet to fire. Yet, MI have beaten two formidable outfits, Kolkata Knight Riders and defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad.
A look at the highest run getting charts after 10 games shows Nitish Rana occupying second place with 129 runs just behind Orange Cap holder David Warner (139). In this IPL, Rana has scores of 34 (28 balls vs RPS), a match-winning 29-ball 50 vs KKR and another 36 ball 45 vs SRH.
The Delhi left-hander has shown great character which has forced the MI management to give him more responsibility and send him up the order. He came back after a very dramatic domestic season for Delhi which went downhill for him after his 146 in the Ranji Trophy opener against Assam at Vadodara. He wasn’t able to score a 50 after that. Therefore the coaching staff, led by KP Bhaskar had to axe him from the side which led to a fall out between skipper Gautam Gambhir and theselectors.
In the post match presentation, after the game against SRH, Rana, while speaking to the media, credited the environment in the MI dressing room for his return to form.
“I interacted with coach Mahela Jayawardane, Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma,” he said and also thanked Gambhir for clearing his mind.
Rana’s own assessment for his poor run was –“Run bane nahin to zyaada sochne laga,” he stressed.
Rana said that inconsistency in the Ranji Trophy had created some problems for him. He was disappointed after being dropped from the last Ranji Trophy game from the Delhi team. However, the Mumbai Indians setup has fostered great confidence in the youngster.
“There was no problem in the technique. I wasn’t able to play my game and could not enjoy. After I failed once-twice, I had gone into a shell. After coming here, my mind was clear, the practice and the first game went well, slowly (things started improving),” Rana said.
Nitish Rana also had an opportunity to get guidance from his Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir, who made things much clearer for the young man.
“I have been with him (Gambhir) since childhood, 10-12 years, we are from the same club. He cleared my mind. Coming here the same thing I asked, Mahela, Sachin Sir and the same thing they shared and I tried to develop it in my game, it luckily worked for me,” he added.
Interestingly, Gambhir, who captains Knight Riders, was watching from the other side of the fence when Rana starred for Mumbai Indians on Sunday. Gambhir may have felt the sting of the defeat, but also pleased that the batsman he publicly backed a month ago made the headlines for the right reasons.
With big names such as Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard going through a dry patch and not getting the runs on the board, Nitish Rana will be the key for the Mumbai Indians in the middle stages of the tournament.