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Nitish Rana’s Coming Of Age Making Mumbai Indians Look Unstoppable

April 22, 2017

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Sometimes a little faith does go a long way. When Mumbai Indians singed Nitish Rana for 10 Lakh, little did they know that 2 years later in IPL 10 the Delhi youngster would outperform all his 10 peers in starting as the 1st name on the team-sheet. Compared to the earlier two seasons where in the former he didn’t get a game and in the latter had to sit out for a majority of the tournament, this edition has been a massive turnaround. At this point, MI has played 6 games, won 5 of them, out of which Rana proved to be an indispensable part on as many as 4 occasions. He is enjoying a real purple patch at the moment riding a string of high scores that have turned out to be match winning ones. As a result, though we are only approaching the edge of the first half of the league, the hard-hitting left hander has already enlisted himself as one of the top finds of the season. Here’s a look back into his performances:

Against Rising Pune Supergiants: Came into the crease with his team’s back against the wall. MI were finding it really difficult to terminate the animated celebrations of Imran Tahir who looked on a role that night. The 23-year old did well to avert the crisis as he made sure that his team doesn’t lose any further wickets and plays till the end of the 20th over. When he got out for 34 off 28 the stage was set for the other hitters to take the attack and post a defendable total on the board. The innings wasn’t quite an indication of what was coming up, but surely an impressive show from an uncapped youngster who looked a lot more assured while many other big names struggled to make their mark.

Against Kolkata Knight Riders: Chasing 179 in a pressure-cooker game Mumbai were let down with terrible umpiring calls and were also held back by some disciplined KKR bowling at the middle overs. Needing 60 from 23 balls with Kieron Pollard just back in the hut had made the task monumental. Having lost half their side the hosts were done and probably dusted as well. But Rana has other ideas. Up he stepped and took the game by the scruff of its neck. He smashed a half century off just 29 balls and with some help from Hardik Pandya at the other end he turned an unlikely defeat into an unbelievable victory.

Against Sunrisers Hyderabad: It was not supposed to be a very tough chase for the Mumbai at Wankhede as the holders batting first were restricted to 158. But SRH being a top class bowling side one can’t take anything for granted against them. MI had lost 3 wickets and a couple of those in quick succession. Once again it was Nitish Rana who held the innings together, didn’t try anything too fancy and led his team’s charge in the chase in order to get them over the line. With his 45 from 36 he top-scored for his team in a low scoring affair.

Against Gujarat Lions: By this time Rana had made the no. 3 position of his own. MI were left to chase 177 and was reduced to a score of 0-1 at the very first over. The story of the match could slightly have gone the other way had Jason Roy grabbed Nitish Rana. Roy spilled the opportunity and Rana went on to score yet another half century. His 53 from 36 balls set the foundation for his team. Pollard and Rohit later went on to make the most of it to give their team a 4th successive win.

Against Kings XI Punjab: Punjab’s 198 was considered to be a daunting total to overcome. But the left hander really took the stuffings out of his opposition’s bowling. This time however he had the luxury of watching a few balls and get himself in, but he started exactly from where he left in the last game. He smashed an unbeaten 62 off 34 balls. But what was more remarkable in it that he did not hit a single boundary in the whole innings, instead he chose to launch the bowlers into the orbit with 7 scintillating strikes. It was truly one of those hope-the-selectors-were-watching kind of an innings.

Behind the Scenes

It all could not have been that much simpler. It was the likes of Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar who recognized that the talent Nitish Rana oozes. As I said, not often one would see him as a part of playing XI prior to this year’s IPL, but what was important that MI didn’t release him. Even he came into the tournament at the back of a very poor domestic season but the team management never lost faith in him. And now the emerging lad from Delhi is repaying MI’s faith as he has taken IPL 2017 by storm with his match winning knocks.

What’s special about Nitish Rana

One of the greatest strengths of Rana is that he doesn’t dwell on the past. He is prepared to focus on the next challenge in hand. He bats with a very positive mindset and ready to take on the bowler right from ball one if the situation demands so. His ability to pick the length of the ball is natural and he bats slightly deeper into the crease than others do. And the combination of these two things gives him a fraction of a second more to decide which shot to play. He plays well both off the front and the back-foot. He not only cuts and pulls well when the ball is short, but his ramp shot off Chris Woakes and thumping heave off Basil Thampi to send the ball soaring over extra cover shows the range he has.

What’s next

In the last 10 years IPL has gone from strength to strength. It helped a few players to re-discover themselves who seemed to have lost their way after an initial glimpse. More importantly the players who were never heard before and never spoken about lightened up the 22-yards. Some of them went on to establish them at the international level, some of them were lost again. So the real battle of survival for the likes of Rana begins right here. We would hope that he doesn’t think too far and continues scoring consistent runs at whichever level or format he plays in. The rest should automatically fall in place. But one thing is for sure – Nitish Rana is not a one-hit wonder. He is a star in making.

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