Nitish Rana © BCCI
Nitish Rana © BCCI

One of the hallmarks of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is how the young players rise to the occasion. The 10th edition of the cash-rich league has also had its share of surprises. The mention of Mumbai Indians’ (MI) strong batting line-up instantly pops up the names like Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu and Jos Buttler in the minds. However, the Mumbai-based franchise has found an unexpected hero in Delhi’s Nitish Rana.

Rana made headlines with his 36-ball 70 last season, in MI’s final league game. He was promoted at No. 3 then. During MI’s first home game this season at Wankhede Stadium, Rana batted ahead of Rohit Sharma at No. 3. His 29-ball 50 setup the game for MI as they went on to win the thriller against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by four wickets. He also played a crucial knock of 45 off 36 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the same venue on Wednesday. Ambati Rayudu’s injury proved to be a gain for the 23-year-old Delhi batsman. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), IPL 10, Match 7

Not long back, things were looking bleak for the southpaw. Delhi were going through a tough time in the Inter-State T20 tournament and had scored 22 in the first three games. Even in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, his poor form saw him face the axe. Not to forget, senior player Gautam Gambhir had a heated argument with coach KP Bhaskar at the end of the season. Low on confidence after facing the axe, Rana joined the MI camp and had conversations with greats of the game like — Sachin Tendulkar and Mahela Jayawardene.

Speaking to iplt20.com, Rana revealed, “When I was playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, I was mentally disturbed. I came here and spoke to Sachin Tendulkar and Mahela Jayawardene. I spoke to a lot of seniors in the team. There was no fault in my technique but the issue was more of the mindset. I realised I was over thinking.

“We have a clear thought process. I am now clear in my mind. I exactly know what I need to do when I am out there in the middle. Today, there was some pressure but the way Krunal Pandya (37 off 20) came out and played, it eased the pressure off me.”

Rana credits the time spent in the MI camp as a factor that has helped him enhance his game. “You can see the improvement day by day. There has been a huge change in my batting and the mindset from last season. I get to learn so much when I talk to them,” he added.