IPL: Rana's all-round show draws praise

"If he performs the way he has been performing in the last two seasons, he will have a chance to grow as a cricketer,” KKR Robin Uthappa said of Nitish Rana, after Rana's match-winning performance on Wednesday.

Nitish Rana picked up two wickets and struck an unbeaten 35 to steer the Kolkata Knight Riders to a seven wicket win over Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday.   -  AFP

Despite a strong start, the Rajasthan Royals could only muster 160-8 on the board against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday, and the Royals captain, Ajinkya Rahane, admitted that his side was short of 15-20 runs.

Defending his bowlers — who had a pale outing at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium — Rahane indicated that they should not be blamed for the defeat. “Our bowlers did really well in the last three games. Sometimes, even if you bowl well, they go for big runs. I back my bowlers. When you lose the match goes wrong, people will start talking about bowling or batting. We were 15-20 runs short, but that has got nothing to do with our bowlers,” Rahane said.

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He also said that the wicket was a bit slow as compared to the one against Delhi Daredevils last week. “Against Delhi, it had good bounce. Today, I felt it was hard to elevate. The ball was slow and slightly low. But there are no excuses, we are professional players and are used to the conditions. If I would have batted for 14th-15th overs, scores would have been different,” he said.

Nitish Rana scalped two key wickets, which proved to be the turning point. “He got a couple of wickets. As a batting team, if you get two overs, or as a bowling unit, if you pick two wickets, things change. I felt if D’Arcy (Short) was there, the story would have been different. Nitish Rana’s bowling in the middle overs (was good). Even Piyush (Chawla) and Kuldeep (Yadav) coming in the middle overs made the difference,” Rahane said.

Knight Riders’ Robin Uthappa showered praise on Rana. “Nitish is the one who has a firm head on his shoulders. He reads the game well and bowls confidently. If he performs the way he has been performing in the last two seasons, he will have a chance to grow as a cricketer,” Uthappa said.

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Having played a knock of 48, Uthappa was happy to strike form. “I have been striking the ball pretty well. I had an off-colour domestic season, but even in domestic season, I did not feel that I was not hitting the ball well. It’s just about the runs. I am happy to be continuing in the same way and connecting the balls. It’s still early days, I will get better with the matches,” he noted.