KKR’s match-saving hero was a net-bowler for Gujarat Titans

Rana had made his debut for KKR in 2022 but was able to capture only one wicket in the season.

Harshit Rana became an instant hero in Kolkata after snatching victory for Kolkata Knight Riders from the jaws of defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad by only four runs. Rana finished with 3 for 33 in the match.

The 22-year-old was playing as a net bowler for Gujarat Titans in the IPL 2022 season when KKR’s Rasikh Salam injured his back. When they were looking for a replacement, Nayar called Rana.

 “I first came to KKR after being sent to Abhishek Nayar sir by Nitish (Rana) bhaiyya. The first day of the trials itself Nayar sir told me I could play for KKR,” Rana recollected in an episode of Knights TV on KKR’s YouTube channel in 2022. 

 “When Rasikh injured his back, we had to get a replacement player. Nitish Rana has always liked Harshit. So he suggested to Baz (former KKR head coach Brendon McCullum) that we should get Harshit on board,” former mentor of KKR David Hussey told Knights TV.

“I used to be a net bowler with Gujarat Titans. One day I got a phone call from Nayar sir. When they sent me the contract at night, that feeling I can’t describe,” Rana recollected in the clip on KKR’s YouTube channel. 

He added, “I haven’t played too much domestic cricket apart from at the U-19 and U-25 level.”

Rana had made his debut for KKR in 2022, when he was hit for a boundary off the first ball. But he managed to come back with a wicket two balls later. That was the only wicket he would take in the 2022 season where he got to play two matches for KKR. In the 2023 season, he claimed five wickets in six games.

What stands out is that while the right-arm fast bowler hails from New Delhi, and has played age group cricket for them, he was called up by KKR as a replacement for the injured Salam in IPL 2022 before he could make his debut at the senior level for Delhi.

“It shows that you can make your debut and get picked up from anywhere. I really enjoy these stories that go from nothing to an IPL hero within 24 hours. That’s what cricket is all about,”said Hussey. 

The former Aussie international predicted commenting, “Not just bowling, he can also bat and he can be Mr 360 with the bat. The cricket fans can even remember AB De Villiers after watching Rana’s batting within a year.”

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