It was the auctions for the 2015 edition of the Indian Premier League. Mumbai Indians pocketed a certain Nitish Rana for his base price, Rs.10 lacs, who was known, in Delhi cricketing circles, as a magnificent hitter of the ball. Yet, the quintessential cricket fan always heard only about either Unmukt Chand or Rishabh Pant, both of whom are flamboyant batsmen in their own right. As expected, Rana never got a game in 2015. The 2015-16 Syed Mushtaq Trophy was where the Delhi lad, then 21, made a statement, scoring a spectacular 299 runs. His name was suddenly at the fore. It was still domestic cricket and excelling at the IPL, a tournament of International standards, still looked like a far cry. In 2016, he was handed 4 games by Mumbai. A well-made 70 showed his class, although he wasn’t still a regular.
Indian Premier League 2017, though, has been like an entirely new and an exciting chapter in Rana’s life. The MI Management has shown faith in the young southpaw and Rana has risen to the occasion, scoring 145 runs in 5 games, at an average of 38.60 and a wonderful strike rate of 133.10. He already has the Orange Cap sitting pretty on his head. The stats are fantastic, yet, they still don’t do justice to Rana’s contribution to the Mukesh Ambani owned Mumbai-based franchise.
Rana made a tremendous 53 off 36 against Gujarat Lions and led from the front even as Mumbai chased down a tricky target of 177 with 3 balls to spare. And this knock came after Parthiv got out off only the second ball of the innings. Earlier, he made a brilliant 45 off 36 balls that helped Mumbai Indians beat the Sunrisers Hyderabad. Before that, Rana helped Mumbai snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against the Kolkata Knight Riders, even as Gambhir, out because of an injury, saw Rana thrash Kolkata’s bowling to write the script. Gambhir has been a staunch supporter of Rana’s talent and had even slammed the Delhi Ranji coach when Rana was dropped from the Team for Vijay Hazare Trophy.
What makes Rana’s contributions special is the fact that in almost all of the games, he went in with pressure on the Mumbai Indians, mostly because of the failure of Rohit, who incidentally found some form today, scoring a handy 40 off 29. Worth mentioning is the fact that Sharma had promoted Rana ahead of himself today, such has been the Delhi-based youngster’s impact on the Team. He has sort of held the batting unit together.
Rana has already made an impact in the IPL and is in the middle of a dream run. If he continues at this rate, he sure has a bright future ahead of him. He has got the skill, he has got the temperament. It’s just a matter of consistency. Having played a pivotal role in three of Mumbai’s four victories this season, and MI sitting top with four victories off five games, Rana has all the confidence he needs to display the consistency International Cricket demands.