The Indian Premier League is almost 3 weeks old now, having completed its first 23 games. This season has appeared quite competitive, as every team has delivered some surprises, dismantling the opponents in certain matches. The star players proved again why they got the highest of bids in the auction. Even some expensive cricketers flopped, not being able to cope up with the Indian conditions in front of a large roaring crowd. Among all these incidents, one young Indian boy caught the attention of every IPL fan. The Mumbai Indians rookie Nitish Rana has been splendid this season with the bat in hand.
The 23 year-old middle-order batsman Rana started his career for Delhi, his home team, at the age of 18. The left-hand attacking batsman has developed himself under the coaching of Sanjay Bhardwaj, in the same club with Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir, the present Delhi captain too has backed Rana a lot, before he joined the Mumbai Indians franchise.
Rana made his first-class and List A debut in the 2015-16 domestic season for Delhi. He was immensely successful in the long format as well as in the limited-over ones. After scoring most runs among any Delhi batsmen in the Ranji trophy, he was second to Unmukt Chand in highest run-getters list in the Vijay Hazare 50-overs tournament. When it came to the shortest format, i.e., Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 contest, Rana was the 7th best batsman in the nation with 299 runs in 7 games at a whooping strike rate of 175.88!
His success in domestic cricket hence resulted in his inclusion in the Mumbai Indians 2016 squad. He played just 4 matches that season, though he scored a brilliant 36-ball-70 in a lost affair with Gujarat Lions. But the meeting with coach Ricky Ponting transformed Rana’s mindset completely.
In the 2016-17 domestic season, Rana was controversially dropped from the Delhi squad, which resulted in a feud between Gambhir and the coach, KP Bhaskar. However, he set his target at the glamorous stage of IPL, in which he would be representing the same franchise as of last year.
All his hard work brought him great success, as he went on to score big knocks consistently in 5 out of 6 matches Mumbai Indians played till now. The tally reads:-
- 34(28) vs Rising Pune Supergiants (1*4, 2*6)
- 50(29) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (5*4, 3*6) [Man of the Match]
- 45(36) vs Sunrisers Hyderabad (3*4, 2*6)
- 11(16) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore (1*4)
- 53(36) vs The Gujarat Lions (4*4, 2*6) [Man of the Match]
- 62*(34) vs Kings XI Punjab (7*6)
Before the game versus Delhi Daredevils tonight, Rana already has 255 runs beside his name this season. He is the second highest run-scorer till now this edition, and is running behind the ‘Orange Cap’ every game! Rana has hit 16 sixes this IPL, joint highest with Brendon McCullum currently.
Given his destructive form and his ability of hitting clean sixes, he may be considered for the national team selections soon. Before that, Rana needs to continue the demolition like what he’s doing these days.
Also, Rana did not forget to credit former Indian cricketer and the current mentor of the Mumbai Indians, Sachin Tendulkar, for his accomplishments.