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Shah Rukh Khan promised that he would celebrate the IPL win with a ‘flying kiss’: Harshit Rana

Rana bagged 19 wickets in 13 games and played a pivotal role in Kolkata Knight Rider's IPL triumph. After the breakthrough IPL season, the Delhi speedster is dreaming of playing for India.

by Tunae
Harshit Rana KKR interviewKolkata Knight Riders’ Harshit Rana celebrates the wicket of Sunrisers Hyderabad batter Heinrich Klaasen during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 final cricket match between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders at MA Chidambaram Stadium, in Chennai, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (PTI Photo)

Harshit Rana was the engine on which the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) team functioned and went on to lift the title for the third time. When Mitchell Starc was struggling with his rhythm in the first half of the IPL, it was Harshit, the uncapped Indian bowler, who stepped up for his team. He bagged 19 wickets in 13 games.

The Indian Express caught up with Harshit and the 22-year-old shares his journey in the IPL, what Shah Rukh Khan promised him, why he started playing cricket and his future goals.


What was more special, winning the IPL or celebrating it with Shah Rukh Khan?

Harshit Rana: Both (laughs).

Was that flying kiss celebration with Shah Rukh pre-planned?

Harshit Rana: Oh Yes! After I got banned for one match, I was very sad and then Shah Rukh sir came to me and said ‘Tu tension mat le ye waali celebration Trophy ke saath karenge (We will celebrate the IPL with a flying kiss). He promised me and made sure that we did that with the trophy and our team.

Will the ban curb your aggression in the future?

Harshit Rana: Sawaal hi nahi hota (Not a chance). Next time I will make sure that I will not use it as a send-off.

This is my cricket. I have always played my cricket like this. Mai off the field bahut fun hun aap kisi se puch lo but ab cricket field dosti karne thodi na aaye hai (I am a fun-loving guy off the field but on the cricket pitch, I am not there to make friends, I want to win). Abhishek Porel smacked me for 16 runs in my first over. Ab chakke lagenge to ego hurt hoga na, smile toh nahi karunga na (If someone hits you for sixes you can’t laugh). In the next over, I took his wicket, the celebration was my redemption but I got banned.

Do you think cricketers from Delhi are ultra-aggressive?

Harshit Rana: This tag has been given to us. Hum Delhi wale hai, emotional hai, aur dil se khelte hai (We are from Delhi we play cricket with our heart). This Delhi’s aggression has made Virat Kohli the Virat Kohli he is. Ishant Sharma played 100 Test matches, and Rishabh Pant did that miracle at Gabba. Gautam Gambhir won two World Cup finals for India.

You’ve looked very lean in this year’s IPL. How many kilos you have shed?

Harshit Rana: From the Mushtaq Ali Trophy that I played last year (2023-24) season in November to the start of the IPL in March, I have lost 17 kgs.

What instigated this fitness revolution?

Harshit Rana: It hit me first when I played in the IPL last year. Following the IPL, I played Duleep Trophy, I was picked for India A but then I got injured. I realised I was doing well, and people were talking about me, I was even performing well but I am frequently getting injured. I realised that I wanted to play for India, and fulfil my father’s dream, I needed to stay fit. I can’t let injuries hamper my dream.

You have always been a hit-the-deck kind of bowler but in this year’s IPL, you were hitting the good length more often and you’re bowling the off-cutters brilliantly. Where did you learn it?

Harshit Rana: Khud se (Self-taught). I worked on my bowling at the NCA when I was there after I sustained a hamstring injury at the start of the Ranji Trophy camp. This is something that I had in the back of my mind that I needed to add more variations in my bowling and during rehab I started working on it.

Please share your experience of working with Bharat Arun for the past two years.

Harshit Rana: I loved working with Bharat sir. He is an excellent listener. If I am trying to say something he will always listen. Tactically he doesn’t speak much but he gives you that mental boost. He told me that I am playing in the IPL because I have the required skill set. But just having skills will not help me play for India. I must start delivering in the difficult overs for my team and that would make me a better bowler than the rest.

Despite having Mitchell Starc in the team, the captain Shreyas Iyer showed more faith in you. Any specific reason?

Harshit Rana: With every match my performance enhanced. The team management started to have more trust in me. The captain had a lot of faith in me that I could deliver for the team in the crunch overs. I won a few games bowling the last over as well.

Do you consider yourself a bowling all-rounder?

Harshit Rana: Arey sir, Duleep Trophy mey century hai. I consider myself a proper all-rounder. In this IPL because of the Impact Player rule, I never got the opportunity to bat. I was itching to smack a few sixes but our team was doing so well that I never got the chance to bat.

Who has played the most important role in your career?

Harshit Rana: Hands down my father (Pradip Rana). He was a hammer thrower. He always wanted me to take up any sport and represent India. I was never a cricket-crazy kid. Doston ke saath gully mohalle mey khel liya (I used to play with my friends in the streets). One day I stopped to watch a cricket tournament in my school (Ganga International School), and I reached home late. My father asked me where I was and I told him about the cricket tournament. He gently asked if I loved playing cricket and I was a bit scared and just replied ‘yes.’ The next day he got me enrolled in a cricket academy.

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