Till a few days back, Gautam Gambhir was fighting for a youngster named Nitish Rana who was dropped from the Delhi side after just three poor outings. Gambhir fought Delhi coach KP Bhaskar, whom he blamed for playing with careers of youngsters like Rana.
Gambhir would be the happiest man on the earth, watching Rana smacking Kolkata Knight Riders bowlers to lead his side Mumbai Indians to a win.
The second game of the super Sunday was a close fought encounter between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians and it was the home side that finally managed to win the game by the skin of teeth.
Though the finishing work was done by Hardik Pandya but it was Nitish Rana who started the race to chase. He played an innings of 50 off just 29 deliveries, to keep hopes of Mumbai Indians afloat.
Sportzwiki caught up with Nitish Rana before the start of the IPL.
Here are some of the excerpts from the interview:
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SW: You played just four matches in last season of IPL and still were one of the players to be retained by the Mumbai Indians for the upcoming season of IPL. Do you expect to play more matches this year?
Nitish: Yes of course. Last year was my first time when I got a chance to play. I made my plans and my plans were successful and I am looking forward of playing more and more matches this season and I will try to emulate my performance of last year for the whole season.
SW: You will be working with a new coach Mahela Jayawardene this season. A tremendous amount of experience being added to the camp. What all do you expect from him?
Nitish: I have many hopes for him, last year there was Ricky Ponting, he helped me a lot. There were too many things technically and mentally which we worked upon and improved. Let’s see what Mahela brings to the camp, I am looking forward to it.
SW: What all you learnt by playing under likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting? Any special tips from them?
Nitish: Like I said earlier, they worked with me upon technical and mental prospects of the game. I also tried to sort out many things in my batting. There was a lot of difference between the level I was playing earlier and the level what they taught me. So to move ahead and improve my batting, it was quite crucial for me to work with them and they helped me a lot.
SW: You had a brilliant start to your Ranji Trophy career as you ran out Wasim Jaffer on the first ball of the game. Take us through that incident. What exactly happened?
Nitish: It was my first game, I was making my debut and it was the first delivery of the game. I was waiting for this opportunity from past 2-3 years. The first ball of the game came towards me and I asked for myself to put in 100% effort and just try it out. I didn’t think that I will be able to run him out. Just the first ball came towards me, he (Wasim Jaffer) ran and I just attempted an underarm throw and luckily I got him out.
SW: You were fielding at which position?
Nitish: Square Leg.
SW: You smashed 21 sixes in 2015/16 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and scored 299 in 9 matches. Did you expect to get an India call-up for the T20I series against Sri Lanka just before the Asia Cup?
Nitish: No, I didn’t think this much big. My work is to be in present and perform in every match and tournament I play in. I never think of this much big.
SW: But we had hopes from you…
Nitish: Yes everyone has hopes, but I never think of such a big thing.
SW: You are often called as Gautam Gambhir of Delhi cricket. How do you feel to be compared to him?
Nitish: I have seen Gautam Gambhir and have followed him right from my childhood. When I first lifted the bat, I think it was Gautam Bhaiya who was batting in front of me. I have been watching him from past 8-9 years. Everyone say that they see a glimpse of Gautam Gambhir in me but I don’t think so as we both have a different style of play but I am fine with it.
SW: You sometimes bowl off-spin and have the tendency of grabbing crucial scalps. Are you looking forward to pay equal attention to bowling as well?
Nitish: Yes, of course. Many coaches have often advised me to bowl more and I am also working on my off-spin. So I am working on this as well.
SW: India A is set to tour South Africa after IPL in the month of June. Are you expecting a call-up for the tour?
Nitish: To be very honest, this season hasn’t been good for me. I am not hoping for it now but I still have IPL in my hands so I am focusing on that, on short term goals as of now.
SW: You were one of three boys from Delhi to be called in India Under 19 team camp before the World Cup 2012 but couldn’t make it to the final squad. How upset were you at that time and how did you motivate yourself?
Nitish: During the preparatory came, unfortunately I got injured during a fielding session. I had a broken finger. They said me that they will recall me but they didn’t. The next under 19 season wasn’t good for me as I could not score well in that season as compared to the last one. I knew that if I perform well, I will make a comeback but the season didn’t go well for me, so I know that I won’t be able to make a comeback now as I scored somewhat 450-500 runs when I got a call but the last season I failed, so I wasn’t called. I didn’t perform well, that is why I wasn’t called.
SW: There were reports that Virender Sehwag offered you an opportunity to play for Haryana. Is it true?
Nitish: No this is not true.
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