CWC 2022: Sneh Rana relishing big stage on her second coming

Having experienced being out of the national side for over five years, the all-rounder is making the most of every opportunity in the World Cup.

Published: 23rd March 2022 05:15 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd March 2022 05:15 AM   |  A+A-

Sneh Rana | AP

Express News Service

CHENNAI: When Sneh Rana made a comeback into the national side for the England tour in July 2021, she had been through quite a journey in the domestic circuit. Rana had gone back to her home state, Punjab, for the 2017-18 season only to return to Railways a year later. In the next three years, she became the go-to player for the star-studded team, to the extent where she was leading them in 2021 when Mithali Raj was on national duty.

And Rana's match-winning performances in that season — averaging 40 with a strike rate of 123.07 while batting in the middle-order and leading the bowling charts with 18 scalps in 8 matches — made her selection inevitable.
Although she grabbed the limelight with her performances in the one-off Bristol Test, Rana wasn’t yet an automatic selection in the limited-overs set-up as India already had an off-spinning all-rounder in Deepti Sharma.

The same story continued in Australia as well. She was in and out of the ODI side, depending on the conditions and the position the team was in the series. But every time she was on the field, Rana made sure her presence was felt. Case in point: 22-ball 24 and 27-ball 30 while chasing in the only two ODIs that India won in England and Australia, respectively.

And that was duly acknowledged with a place in the World Cup squad. In hindsight, that Meghna Singh and Renuka Singh Thakur missed the better part of the New Zealand tour became a blessing in disguise for Rana and the team management. They had no choice but to play an extra spinner, and Rana’s batting ability pipped her chances over Poonam Yadav.

She played just three matches but did enough to secure a place in the opening game of the World Cup against Pakistan. Immediately, she had an impact with her all-round performance alongside Pooja Vastrkar. Rana was making headlines in her maiden Cup. She was living her dream.

Although she had very little to contribute with the bat in the next few matches, Rana kept chipping away with wickets in almost every game. That Deepti didn’t have an impact meant that when push came to shove against Australia, Rana was picked ahead of the southpaw. India were in a precarious position after losing against Australia. They had to win two in two. Rana might have made her mark in the marquee event, but she was nowhere close to being finished.

“When I performed in the first match of my first World Cup, I was pretty happy at that time. However, on such a huge platform you can’t be happy with just one performance,” she said ahead of the Bangladesh match before adding, "You need to do more and perform well in most of the games. I want to perform whenever my team needs me to perform.”

And that is exactly what she did at Hamilton on Tuesday. She came in to bat when India were in a spot of bother, 162 for five in 43.1 overs, and hit a 27-ball 30, taking them to 229 for seven. She added 48 runs in 38 balls with Pooja Vastrakar for the sixth wicket.

With the ball, on a surface that was offering turn and bounce, Rana was tossing it up, putting extra revs on the ball, getting it to drift and dip. So much so that for the better part of her spell, India had a proper Test match field — two slips, a short-leg and a gully. Some fell short, a couple were dropped, but Rumana Ahmed’s dismissal was an off-spinner’s dream — the ball ripped across the surface, took the glove, hit the thigh pad and lobbed in front of Yastika Bhatia at short-leg, who completed the catch.
Rana eventually finished with four for 31 — her best in the format so far, helping India complete a massive 110-run win — which provided a big boost to the net run rate.  “My mindset is very simple. I want to take responsibility for any role that’s provided and perform in any situation,” she said after the match on BCCI.tv.

It was a job well done. But the dream is not over. They still have another crucial match against South Africa on Sunday. However, the team management can take confidence from the fact that Rana is leaving no stone unturned on her second coming.
 



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