The level of care he would have got is of course beyond the imagination of most of the country right now, but the country could possibly take some heart at this bleak time that the Man of the Match in the third game of the IPL is someone who has just beaten Covid-19.

Last month, Nitish Rana became the first player in this IPL to test positive for Covid-19 with a reported vacation in Goa after having successfully participated in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy becoming the talking point. In that light, the preparation could not have been anywhere close to ideal.

However, the first ball Nitish Rana got on Sunday night was a juicy wide half-volley, and he took the approach that sets the Kolkata Knight Riders apart from others: attack if you can, there are others behind you if you fail. He smacked Bhuvneshwar Kumar away for four, and set the tone for the rest of the innings.

"I just saw the ball was in my slot, and I went after it," Rana said on Star Sports when receiving his Man-of-the-Match award. "I have only one thing in my mind when I bat: if the ball is in my half, I have to try to convert it into a boundary."

Rana converted 13 of those into boundaries in his 56-ball 80, impressing his captain Eoin Morgan, who along with coach Brendon McCullum have to be the most positive leadership group in a cricket set-up. When you impress such a champion of aggressive cricket with your approach - never mind the results - you must have done something right.

"Delighted for Nitish," Morgan said at the post-match press conference. "Obviously a match-winning innings. The thing that impressed me the most today was the method that he used. He played really aggressively, and always took a positive option, which really did set up our batting innings. Rahul [Tripathi] played extremely well, which allowed our lower middle order [to play with freedom], one of whom came off today in Dinesh Karthik, so I am delighted for Nitish."

Rana and Tripathi added 93 runs in 50 legal deliveries, all of them in the dreaded middle overs on a dry and slow track. Thanks to that onslaught, the blip in the end - just 42 runs in the last five overs - wasn't enough to restrict the Knight Riders to a par total. It was only after they were dismissed that the difficult nature of the pitch became apparent.

"Just catching up really," Morgan said when asked what the conversations were like once Rana came out of isolation. "[He was] delighted to be out of quarantine and have a negative report. Then when he joined the squad, getting back to playing in the camp, netting and then batting in the practice match as well, his game [was] in really good touch. We witnessed it today on a wicket that wasn't as good as he made it look to bat on. We are delighted for him."

What might have been a challenging pitch for the others possibly took out an aspect that challenges Rana. Teams have looked to go quick and short at him with impressive results, but the pitch didn't have that kind of pace nor did the Sunrisers Hyderabad have that kind of bowlers. The Knight Riders' next match is on the same square: Rana will be keen to end the pattern in his last six IPL innings: 0, 81, 0, 87, 0 and now 80.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo