The key to success for Kolkata Knight Riders this season lies in its players’ newfound ability to support each other through highs and lows, something that was “missing” over the past two years, feels Nitish Rana.

The two-time champion became the first team to seal the playoff berth with a facile 18-run win over Mumbai Indians in a 16-over rain-interrupted IPL match at Eden Gardens on Saturday.


This was the first time since 2021 that KKR made the last-four stage. “We win together and we lose together; that’s the dressing room environment we have. It’s very important to place hands on each other’s shoulders, and I feel it was missing for the last one to two years,” Rana said in the post-match media interaction here.

With this win, it has consolidated its position atop the standings with 18 points. With two games to go, KKR is now well-placed for a top-two finish.

The big reality check for KKR had come against Punjab Kings which smashed South Africa’s record of the highest successful run-chase by gunning down 262 with eight balls to spare at Eden Gardens on April 26.

“We felt really bad that day. I was witness to the dressing room, only three-four ate dinner that night,” he recalled.

Rana, who led the side the previous season in regular skipper Shreyas Iyer’s absence, made a comeback from a finger injury after missing the last 10 matches.

Having scored a crucial 23-ball 33 on his return, the left-hander said he had anxiety pangs and had a sleepless night.

“To be honest I was not able to touch the bat for 20-22 days because of the injury. Then slowly it started falling into place. I used to play innings in my mind.

“I couldn’t sleep the whole night yesterday. It seemed I’m playing the first IPL match of my life. I slept only around 7:30-8 A.M. such was the anxiety. It seemed I was playing my first match, you have to increase your hunger to do well. Luckily I had that thing in me,” he said.