Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) aggressive left-hand batsman Nitish Rana made most of his promotion as an opener in his team’s first match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 on Sunday (April 11).
Rana batted with great intent and fluency throughout his innings against a Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) attack featuring T20 bowling pros such as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan.
The magnificent knock on a traditional Chepauk track saw Rana blaze his willow for 80 runs off 56 deliveries, including nine fours and four maximums. His stellar effort with the bat set KKR on their way to a strong total for the top-heavy SRH batting unit.
WATCH – Nitish Rana Delivers As Opener For KKR Against SRH
In many ways, Rana’s successful beginning to IPL 2021 was a vindication of the belief that opening the batting is indeed his best position in the KKR line-up.
As part of our Game Plan 1 for the SRH versus KKR encounter, we found out that, even though Nitish Rana batted more frequently as a middle-order batsman in IPL 2020, he was at his most productive when he opened the innings.
Rana scored 168 runs from the 116 deliveries he faced as an opener for KKR in IPL 2020. Rana’s strike-rate and average in his four innings as an opener – 42.00 runs per innings at 144.83 – were better than his overall record for the tournament: only 25.14 runs per innings at 138.58.
It should’ve been a no-brainer to persist with Nitish Rana as an opener for a KKR side, which struggled in the powerplay overs last year. The two-time champions scored at 7.093 runs per over and lost a wicket for every 20.20 balls during the six field restriction overs. KKR were the slowest when it comes to runs per over among all eight IPL teams in UAE last season.
Rana, individually, scored at 8.68 runs as an opener and was dismissed every 29 balls, nearly two overs less than what an average KKR batsman was dismissed for in the powerplay overs of IPL 2020.
Against SRH, especially, Nitish Rana had some favourable match-ups too. And so, it came as no surprise to see him begin so brilliantly for KKR as an opener in the new season.
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