IPL 2018: Backing Nitish Rana has paid off, says KKR coach Jacques Kallis | cricket | Hindustan Times
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IPL 2018: Backing Nitish Rana has paid off, says KKR coach Jacques Kallis

With Nitish Rana emerging as one of the biggest gains for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in IPL 2018, head coach Jacques Kallis said they always backed the Delhi youngster and his performances so far have been terrific.

cricket Updated: Apr 23, 2018 18:40 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Kolkata Knight Riders’ Nitish Rana has scored 165 runs and taken four wickets so far in IPL 2018.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ Nitish Rana has scored 165 runs and taken four wickets so far in IPL 2018. (AFP)

How keen Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were on Nitish Rana could be gauged from the way they went for the top-order batsman at January’s auction. From the time bidding opened with Rajasthan Royals seeking Rana for Rs 20 lakh, KKR were in the fray finally buying him for Rs 3.40 crore. (IPL 2018 FULL COVERAGE)

And with scores of 35 (24balls; 2x4; 2x6), 16 (14balls; 2x4), 18 (16 balls; 2x4; 1x6), 59 (35 balls; 5x4; 4x6) and 35 (27 balls; 2x4; 1x6) the former Mumbai Indians’ player sure has delivered. Add to that his off-spin which has so far claimed Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Ajinkya Rahane and D’Arcy Short. The only blemish so far has been a poor run-out against Kings XI Punjab.

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“We had heard a lot about him and he had played nicely against us in Mumbai (29-ball 50 in 2017). Perhaps he didn’t get as many games with Mumbai. We tried to give him the message that we will let him settle into the side and that he should just go and show his talent. We are backing him 100% and it has certainly paid off. He has played some wonderful innings for us and he is a good kid as well. He has bright future with KKR,” said KKR coach Jacques Kallis.

Kallis, assistant-coach Simon Katich and Venky Mysore, team CEO and MD, were present at Knight Golf, a charity event, at the Tollygunge Club here on Saturday.

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At 24, Rana is young but KKR have two in the playing XI who are considerably younger: Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi. Katich explained that it would be difficult for Gill to be promoted in the batting order given the kind of form Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Rana are in.

“But we feel we are backing him to play a role batting for the team. Shubman himself would say he is happy to be playing. Mavi has performed really well; he has got real pace. He bowled well at the death in Jaipur and in the power play the other day (against KXIP). He didn’t get Chris Gayle out but certainly troubled him,” said Katich.

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‘No Man United-like domination’

Kallis felt that qualification for the playoffs could come down to net run rate. “There is no one team that is dominating. It is not like in the soccer league (in England) where you had Man United dominating for a while and some teams were regularly at the bottom. I think it is going to be a tight finish towards the end and will be down to a point or two and maybe even the nett run rate.”

Russell fit

Katich also said Andre Russell would recover in time for KKR’s next game, away to Delhi on Friday. Russell pulled up with a hamstring problem against KXIP at Eden Gardens and was unable to complete his second over which was finished by Rana.