Ever since its inception in the year 2008, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has been instrumental in fast-tracking the careers of many young cricketers across the globe and particularly in India. Given the extreme popularity of the league among fans and the quality of cricket on display, a decent run in the IPL is bound to help a player bag generous eyeballs and might eventually culminate in him getting a call-up to represent India. Players like Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey and Ravindra Jadeja will vouch for this. Nitish Rana IPL 2018 could be the next name on this long list.
The unsung hero of Kolkata Knight Riders’ campaign so far, IPL Nitish Rana is one player who has made his case stronger and stronger to become the latest player to take the shorter route to India’s limited-overs dressing room and deservedly so. Following his fruitful stint with Mumbai Indians (333 runs in 13 matches at 30.27) last year, the 24-year old middle-order batsman fetched INR 3.4 Crore in January’s players auction as he was signed up by KKR. So far, Nitish Rana IPL 2018 has justified every single penny the franchise has spent on him.
Here, we list down three reasons as to why KKR star Nitish Rana could soon make it to India’s limited-overs team:
1. India’s search for a reliable middle-order batsman
With the 2019 ODI World Cup fast approaching, the MSK Prasad-led selection panel has been on the lookout for a reliable middle-order batsman for India for quite some time now. Players like Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuvraj Singh and KL Rahul have been tried in the last 12-18 months but none has made the crucial No.4 position his own so far. As such, IPL Nitish Rana has every chance of being given an opportunity in the coveted role if he continues to do well in IPL 2018 for KKR.
With 162 runs in five innings at 40.50, Nitish Rana IPL 2018 has been his side’s highest run-scorer thus far in the tournament and is currently at the third position behind Virat Kohli (201) and Sanju Samson (185) in the overall list of top run-getters this season. Batting at the crucial No.4 position, the 24-year-old has emerged as a perfect replacement for Manish Pandey in KKR’s batting lineup and looked good despite the flamboyance of Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa around him.
2. Knack of picking up important wickets
Along with his mature batting style, captain Dinesh Karthik also seems to have unlocked the bowling potential in Nitish Rana IPL 2018 as the youngster is a handy part-time off-spinner and is certainly an added asset for his team. In fact, it has been his all-round efforts which have fetched IPL Nitish Rana two ‘Man of the match’ awards out of the three KKR victories in the tournament so far. Coming in to bowl at a critical juncture in the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rana got rid of two of the biggest names in world cricket – AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli – in a space of two deliveries and completely changed the course of that game.
Similarly, in the match against Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur, IPL Nitish Rana picked up 2 wickets for 11 runs in his spell of 3 overs and paved the way for his team’s easy win in the end. This knack of plucking out a wicket or two is always deemed in high regard at the international level and the Indian selectors will certainly keep an eye on Nitish Rana ‘The Bowler’ in the coming weeks of IPL 2018.
3. Solid domestic record for Delhi
In domestic cricket, Nitish Rana represents Delhi and has a First-Class average of 46.29 after 24 games, which means he is unlikely to go down the path of IPL specialists like Paul Valthaty, Swapnil Asnodkar and Manpreet Gony. The young southpaw made his List A and T20 debuts in the 2012-13 season but only got to play his first Ranji Trophy match for Delhi in 2015-16 under Gautam Gambhir‘s captaincy and finished the season as his team’s highest run-getter, with 557 runs at 50.63, including a century and three fifties in the campaign. Despite a modest time out in the following season, IPL Nitish Rana bounced back with a solid show for Mumbai Indians last year and has been on the right track ever since.
As such, Nitish Rana IPL 2018 has a genuine chance of making it to India’s limited-overs teams under Virat Kohli’s leadership and taking his career to the next level if he continues to excel in the tournament this year.