Nitish Rana, a power-striker and an aggressive left-handed batsman from Delhi, is one of the brightest stars of Indian Premier League (IPL). The attacking batsman has so far played 46 matches in the lucrative league, and with a strike-rate of 134.61, Nitish has accumulated 1085 runs. He has smashed eight half-centuries, and 85 not out is his highest score.
Nitish first came in the limelight when he impressed everyone in the 2015-16 season of Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy. He scored 299 runs – most by a Delhi player and seventh-highest overall. Nitish also struck 21 sixes which was the most by any batter. Even Hardik Pandya, who topped the run-scorers table was at the second spot with 19 maximums.
In the same season, Nitish debuted in Ranji Trophy and finished as Delhi’s highest run-getter. He amassed 557 runs at an outstanding average of 50.63, including a century and three fifties. His IPL journey kicked off when in 2015, Mumbai Indians (MI) bought him for INR 10 lakh but he did not play a game in the IPL 2015. Then, he was retained by MI ahead of the IPL 2016 auction.
The fortune kicked in for Nitish when he was bought by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in 2018 season. In 15 games, he scored 304 runs at a strike-rate of 131.03. Though, he grabbed the real attention by his part-time off-break bowling in a match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) when he dismissed both Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in his single over.
But how did Nitish bagged probably the most valued wickets in IPL? Well, the 26-year-old has revealed a compelling story on how he got the devastating pair out. In a Cricbuzz show ‘Spicy Pitch’, Nitish said that when Dinesh Karthik asked him to bowl an over, he applied a Delhite approach and accepted the challenge.
“DK (Dinesh Karthik) bro asked me, ‘will you bowl’? I being a typical Delhi boy with absolutely no fear said ‘of course’. What will happen? If they gonna hit me, they will. They are smashing everyone’s balls, will hit mine too. Who can stop them?. So, I said, okay, I will bowl,” said Nitish.
Nitish stated that when his first ball went for a six, he thought De Villiers would hit him for 6 sixes.
“I bowled my first ball; I knew if there is a chance to get them out, then it will have to be carrom or something else. They won’t get out on normal off-spin. So I bowled to AB, and he pulled it for a maximum. I returned to my run-up and felt that five more sixes are on the cards. I really felt, today it will be a record, and I will get smacked for 6 sixes.”
Nitish articulated that he knew the typical off-spin isn’t gonna work, so he bowled a carrom ball which got him the success.
“It was the middle overs phase, 10-12, and both batsmen were set. I thought I made a mistake, and it was a shorter end too. The legside was very small. So for the next delivery, I had only one option, either I go for the full yorker, or I bowl carrom. Then, I thought to go for carrom. Then AB moved to smack it, but it got the top edge, and Mitchell Johnson caught it at deep midwicket, and I was delighted.”
After sending ABD to the dugout, Nitish was nervous to bowl to Kohli as there were still four deliveries left in the over. For the RCB skipper, Nitish went with a yorker which swung in the air and shattered the defence of Kohli.
“Now I came to my run-up again and in front of was Virat Kohli. I was like, I’ve got one out, there are four balls still left, Virat is batting, what do I do!. I don’t know how it came to my mind to bowl a yorker, and that yorker was so good, it swung in the air, and Virat missed it, maybe he wasn’t expecting a yorker,” concluded Nitish.