Kolkata, March 25 (IANS) With IPL 2023 returning to its original home-and-away format, Kolkata Knight Riders middle-order batter Nitish Rana said he was missing the emotion of playing at the home ground, which is Eden Gardens for him.
KKR, the two-time champions, will play IPL matches at their home ground in Kolkata after a gap of few years, with the last three editions of the cash-rich league being played at different venues due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Kolkata will play their first home game on April 6 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The 29-year old Rana has amassed 450 runs from 14 innings at the Eden Gardens for KKR, averaging 34.62 at a strike-rate of 140.19.
“I had played the first two seasons here, after which all the matches were held during the COVID. Somewhere I was missing this emotion. If you want to play in the IPL for KKR and you are not getting to play at the Eden Gardens in front of that crowd, then definitely you are missing something.”
“For the past three years I was missing this emotion and finally we are here. Also I am very happy that I am back here. I am definitely very excited to play our first match at our home,” the left-handed batter was quoted as saying by the official website of the franchise.
In the absence of captain Shreyas Iyer, who’s currently nursing a lower back injury, Rana will have to take up more responsibility in the Knight Riders’ batting order.
Rana, who plays for Delhi in domestic cricket, made 317 runs in eight matches of last year’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at an average of 45.28 and a strike-rate of 139.03, including a hundred.
“After three years I am coming back here. Two years back I played here. Everyone is aware of the atmosphere at the stadium. But somewhere I had forgotten these things. I’ve missed the Eden Gardens and our fans a lot. They have constantly been supporting us. To play at this venue and in front of our home crowd is a different feeling,” he said. .
While IPL 2023 starts from March 31, Kolkata are scheduled to play their first match of the tournament on April 1, against Shikhar Dhawan-led Punjab Kings at the PCA Stadium in Mohali.