Nitish Rana’s recent century against Mumbai in the ongoing Ranji Trophy marked a significant milestone in his cricketing journey. After a dry spell of more than four years without a first-class hundred, Rana expressed his hunger for more such innings, emphasizing his renewed focus on red-ball cricket.
Reflecting on his journey, Rana stated, “I had lost the habit of scoring hundreds. I now know how to [make] hundreds. A big one is around the corner this season.”
Rana’s century, his seventh in first-class cricket, came after a prolonged period of struggle where he averaged 27.07 and scored just two fifties in 17 innings. The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic also affected his rhythm, leading to a temporary shift in focus away from red-ball cricket.
“During the Covid years, when the IPL was held in two phases, I had stopped focusing on red-ball cricket a little bit,” explained Rana. “So that set me back somewhat. This year I have worked very hard with the red ball because I wanted to prove, not to anyone else but myself, that I can be a good red-ball player.”
Rana’s ability to make an impact in red-ball cricket has been evident in the past, with his last century being a crucial innings in a successful fourth-innings chase against Vidarbha. His recent century against Mumbai showcased his aggressive yet calculated approach, with Rana hitting 12 fours and five sixes in his innings.
“Playing strokes is in my blood,” Rana remarked. “I try to play according to the situation. We were chasing  when I scored the 68-ball hundred. Today, the wicket was so good that I wanted to keep my shape and play my game.”
The move to Uttar Pradesh (UP) from Delhi ahead of the 2023-24 season also seems to have rejuvenated Rana. He spoke positively about his new team, saying, “I know 14 of them in the 15-member squad. I have played with Ankit [Rajpoot] from Under-16 days, with Rinku [Singh] for six years [at Kolkata Knight Riders], Akshdeep [Nath] for eight years. I never felt like I came to a new team.”
Rana’s century has rekindled his desire to excel in red-ball cricket and earn a recall to the national team. Despite the challenges, he remains focused on his game and is determined to make the most of his opportunities.
“It is always at the back of the mind of every player,” Rana acknowledged. “Even I want to play for India. But the hard work that is needed to make it is what I am willing to work for.”
As Rana continues to make strides in domestic cricket, his hunger for success and his renewed focus on red-ball cricket could pave the way for more significant achievements in the near future.