The Indian Premier League has become a platform for young cricketers to make a mark. Right from R Ashwin in the early days of the league, a lot of players have benefitted from the exposure it provides. This season, Mumbai Indians batsman Nitish Rana has been the story.
Coming off a below-par season in domestic cricket for Delhi, Nitish Rana has more than made up with his impressive run for his IPL team, Mumbai Indians. With 266 runs, he is No 4 on the list of top run-getters in the tournament. It is the highest among uncapped Indians.
Nitish Rana has also scored the most sixes – 16 -- in the tournament. Hindustan Times caught up with the current sensation. Excerpts:
How does it feel to be a recognised face in the country? I’m sure a lot has changed for you over the past couple of weeks…
Rana: It’s a very proud feeling for any youngster and I’m going through the same kind of emotions. I would like to share an incident. I was playing a local tournament in Delhi. While I was batting, a friend told me: ‘You’ve been selected by MI (Mumbai Indians)’. I retorted, saying, ‘Listen, don’t play pranks with me; especially not something like this.’ Despite having had a good run in the domestic season then, I didn’t expect this one bit. MI was a very big team for me. Hence, I simply didn’t expect to get selected. However, after I came out and got to know that MI had selected me, well, that was one feeling and today’s is another. I can’t compare the two or tell which one gave me more happiness. Firstly, to be selected by such a big side, and then wait for nearly one-and-a-half-years to get an opportunity and then perform in the manner I’ve done so far. It’s a very big moment for me.
There’s always expectation before the start of a season. Do you feel you’ve exceeded that?
Rana: Well, I didn’t have a great Ranji season. So I just kept telling myself that I had a number of things in my control now and if I can keep myself mentally prepared, it wouldn’t be too long before I get a chance to prove myself in the IPL. I was just focussed. I had a terrible Ranji season and I could have been depressed. Especially if you compare the previous two seasons, the last season was nothing. A number of people supported me.
How tough was dealing with the controversy after getting dropped (by the Delhi team)? There were differences between your captain and coach regarding your selection…
It was tough. But then if I can’t perform, no one would play me. Well, I feel it’s very important to fail. Frankly speaking, I feel if a person doesn’t fail in life he won’t be able to learn anything. I knew something this big was on the cards. I failed a lot, people commented as well, but I ignored it and believed in myself, trusted my game and worked hard. Today, I’m getting the rewards for what I’ve put in.
So do you feel you’ve given your critics a fitting reply with your bat?
Rana: I haven’t thought of it this way but if someone wants to take it that way they’re welcome.
You said in the press conference earlier that you had spoken to Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar and Mahela Jayawardene. You even said Gambhir gave you a few examples... What were they?
Well I had a few technical issues. As my form dipped and I got out early in a couple of one-dayers, Gambhir spoke to me regarding my technique. After coming over here, I spoke to Sachin sir and Mahela sir regarding the same and both said that Gambhir was right and from the first day I started practicing that way.
What was the change?
Rana: Well I have a low stance and there was a problem with me being side-on. They asked me to be upright and open up my shoulder a bit more to help me get a better look at the ball.
There are talks regarding you being in the running for the Champions Trophy. With IPL becoming a platform for younger players, how does it feel? Do you hope to get such a break?
I would definitely like to get a break. But at the same time I don’t want to think too far ahead. My aim is to live in the present and enjoy what’s happening right now and perform day after day, match after match.