Nitish Rana slammed his second consecutive fifty as he started off the 2019 Indian Premier League with a bang for Kolkata Knight Riders. (Image credit: Twitter)
Nitish Rana made a great start in the 2019 Indian Premier League with 68 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the opening game while he smashed 63 off 37 against Kings XI Punjab in the second game. Rana’s consistency in the middle order has boosted the two-time IPL champions and has helped them team reach the top of the table. However, Rana is aware that he had started off in a similar vein in the 2018 edition of the tournament. After a solid showing, his form slipped away and he ended up with just 304 runs at an average of 23.38. Speaking after the 28-run win against Kings XI Punjab, Rana said he was aware of how his progress was last year and he want to sustain it.
“"I haven't thought too far ahead. But for the last couple of seasons, I start well but my form fizzles out towards the later half of the tournament," Rana said after the win. "So this time around, I want to work on this. I want to continue the kind of form I have started in till the end of the tournament."
Rana did not have a good season with Delhi in the domestic circuit, managing just 147 runs form 10 matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 and 191 runs from six matches in the Ranji Trophy. Disturbed by his poor form, the top order KKR batsman spent some time at the Mumbai-based KKR Academy speaking to Abhishek Nayar and Dinesh Karthik. "I did not work on batting as such but I worked on the mental toughness. KKR academy was quite helpful in that sense because I got one-on-one time with Abhishek bhaiya and DK bhaiya. They helped me clear self doubts. Now, I feel, I've become a better player."
Having impressed at different batting positions, Rana said, "That's the sign of a good team. My plan was clear -- to hit a loose ball and then, let DK (Dinesh Karthik) or (Andre) Russell take over for the last four-five overs."
Four of his seven sixes came against India's top off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin but Rana said the attack was not pre-planned. "I was just trying to build my innings. I was taking it ball by ball at the start and then when I thought I could charge, I did that. It doesn't matter for me who the bowler is. My game plan was simple. I thought that was the time to attack and I did. That was the plan for the two overs -- of Ashwin and South African pacer (Hardus Viljoen)."
Rana also hailed Andre Russell's 17-ball 48 and said the lifeline, when the Jamaican survived owing to a no ball, gave them 20-25 runs extra. "Having 218/4 definitely worked in our favour, how Russell got a lifeline and that probably gave us those 20-25 runs extra. But even if we had 180 or 200, we would have fought this hard. It wasn't very easy (to chase) because the ball started seaming in the second innings."
-With PTI inputs-