When Nitish Rana announced his arrival in the Indian Premier League last season, one can bet that not a single soul in Kolkata was happy. His 29-ball 50 that night was one of the major forces that downed Kolkata Knight Riders despite them putting up a stern 178 on the board. After that, the gutsy southpaw would add two more fifties to his tally that season before tapering off towards the end. The impression that Rana had made on the KKR thinktank’s mind though wasn’t to die soon though. In this year’s auction, they bid hard for him, raising his currency value from INR 20 lakhs to 3.4 crores. And in response to that heavy price-tag, the 24-year-old ensured that he didn’t make his franchise wait for too long to reap the dividends.
Rana’s contribution to KKR’s opening win was massive, for he took out RCB’s heart and soul – AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli – off back to back balls with his part-time bowling. He then stitched together a critical 55-run stand with his skipper Dinesh Karthik to ease the team’s chase of 176. In the next couple of games too, he would get starts but failed to encash. When he walked in to bat in the eighth over with KKR’s score reading 62 for 2, on Monday (April 16), all that his team needed him to do was hang in there and perhaps not get out after a start, again.
Rana, much by his own admission, relishes batting against the spinners and he put that on display by hitting two sixes and a four off Rahul Tewatia and Shahbaz Nadeem, combined, in his first two overs. “I always knew if the spinners come in, it’s very easy for my game. I was waiting for them, both of who turn the ball into me,” Rana told on Monday. In the forthcoming overs, Rana partnered Andre Russell who dismissed everything out of his sight to the extent of hitting three sixes in an over, twice.
If there was a musical concert, Russell would be your lead guitarist- a superstar with fancy hair and a jazzy attitude, who would plant a foot on the amplifier in front and pluck those strings to churn out the dominant tune, one that stays with you. On the other hand, Rana would be the bass guitarist, keeping every instrument on the stage together, if not by playing to the audience but by stringing it together for everyone to sound beautiful. On Monday, much like a bass guitarist, Rana was setting the pulse of KKR, playing an octave lower, yet so valuable.