CHENNAI: Coming back from a bout with COVID-19, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) indomitable batsman Nitish Rana pummeled the Sunrisers Hyderabad bowlers not only to fashion a 10-run win for his side but also bag man of the match award in the third game of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at MA Chidambaram Stadium here last night.
After successfully participating in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy, the Delhi southpaw became the first player in this edition of the IPL to test positive for COVID-19, after a vacation in Goa becoming the talking point. In light of this, the planning may not have been similar to perfect.
The 27-year-old Rana had to serve an extended day of quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 on March 22, a day after arriving in Mumbai and checking in at the team hotel. As per the guidelines by the BCCI, he had to stay alone in his room until returning two negative COVID-19 results on the 11th and 12th days.
Rana has been one of the best performers in the cash-rich T20 league over the past few years.
Rana and Rahul Tripathi added 93 runs off 50 deliveries on a dry and slow park, all of them in the dreaded middle overs.
As he stepped in, Rana was presented with a juicy big half-volley, and he took the approach that distinguishes KKR from the competition: strike if you can, and if you miss, there are others behind you. He struck Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a four, setting the stage for the remainder of the innings.
Received the man of the match award, Rana said: "I just saw the ball was in my slot, and I went after it.
When I bat, I only have one thought: if the ball is in my half, I must try to turn it into a boundary."
In his 56-ball 80-run inning, Rana hammered 13 of those in his half into boundaries, impressing captain Eoin Morgan and coach Brendon McCullum, who have to be the most optimistic leadership group in cricket.
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