Sunil Narine is a mystery! He can weave magic with the ball as well as with the bat. At first, it was his bowling, which haunted the best of the batsmen in the game and has now left everyone bewildered with his manic batting at the top. Chris Lynn injured, no problem! Narine will do the needful and open the batting for Kolkata Knight Riders. Narine has evolved as a force to reckon, his batting is nowhere close to a pinch-hitter, though his numbers give an impression of being so. He plays some proper cricketing shots and connects it well.
After getting Kolkata Knight Riders to a blazing start on a couple of occasions, Narine left Royal Challengers Bangalore at sixes and sevens with his belligerence on Sunday night. Once again, he walked out alongside Gautam Gambhir to bat. But, this time he had one of the finest T20 bowlers, Samuel Badree, to confront. Though Narine might have confronted the canny bowler in the nets but facing him in the very first over is always a challenge.
Ball 1 – Narine got a bit early into the shot as he tried to smash it over cover but missed it completely.
Ball 2 – He adjusted beautifully to this one, it was a length delivery again from Badree, Narine stepped out to get to the pitch of the ball and smashed it through covers for his first boundary. Though many would have thought this might just be a flash in the pan but Narine had all the answers in the balls to come.
Ball 3 – Narine gave a testament to his ability of clean hitting in the next delivery. Length ball again, Narine lofted it over mid-on for anther boundary.
Ball 4 – The next ball was just the beauty of T20 cricket. Narine played too many shots, but with perfection. He shimmied once again to a length delivery and lofted over covers for a boundary. There was frustration in the RCB dugout, which was clearly evident on Virat Kohli and Samuel Badree’s face but Narine made it from bad to worse on the very next delivery.
Ball 5 – Badree made no change in his length and once again delivered a length delivery, Narine made good use of his feet and smacked it over long-on for a maximum. It was some clean hitting with no half-measures from Narine. He wanted to attack and went hard with the word go, which is why he was also successful.
The last ball was although a dot but Narine milked 18 runs off the very first over and got his team off to a flyer. The damage was done and RCB possibly didn’t have an answer to Narine’s onslaught. Narine garnered 34 off 17 with the help of six boundaries and a six, which eventually turned out to be the highest individual total of the match. His innings was not a fluke or a package of rash strokes but a calculated hitting one. He also belted 42 off 17 against Kings XI Punjab, where he didn’t run a single at all and only dealt in boundaries.
How many times a does team win by a margin of 82 runs after posting just 131 on the board? KKR did it with some impactful yet astute bowling backed with some brilliant captaincy by Gambhir to derail RCB on an awful 49.
A batsman’s head is one of the most important parts of his body while batting. The more still the head is, the more a batsman can focus and execute a short to perfection. It also helps against short pitched deliveries, which has been most the batsmen’s Achilles’ heel. One of the highlights and key reasons behind Narine’s success with the bat is his still head position. It doesn’t go all over the place, which is why he has a good look at the ball and manages to middle it on most of the occasions. For any non-batsman to have such a head position is insane.
How many non-batsmen possess this quality? Batting is no rocket science, and run-scoring is not a herculean task? In a format like T20, few right techniques are enough to keep the scoreboard ticking. And, Narine certainly got that. If one introspects his innings closely, one would conclude that Narine hardly plays a bad shot and his strokes are often middled.
Many top-order batsmen can actually emulate Narine’s technique. Make no mistake, Narine has also opened the batting for Melbourne Renegades on three occasions in the recently concluded Big Bash League. His ability to strike big has been well spotted and as of now, not many have a possible solution to stop it. Narine has provided a solid alternative for an opener and KKR will certainly benefit from it.
Lynn’s injury came as a massive blow to KKR and they needed someone to step up in his absence. KKR experimented with Narine, which did wonders for them so far. Narine’s success at the top also provides a fantastic psychological advantage and depth to the batting-order
Also, his bowling this season has rather been effective. Narine lost the magic that he used to possess after remodeling his action but has done reasonably well as per his standards this season. He was the chief engineer when KKR won their two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014 but had a tough time with the ball in the time to come. But, KKR persisted with their hero and stood by him in difficult times and the result is there for everyone to be seen. In this season so far, Narine has picked 4 wickets in seven outings and hails of a staggering economy of 6.41. His bowling had the zip and rhythm. Gautam Gambhir also trusted him with the ball at crucial junctures.
What’s there is there, for now, let’s sit and watch Narine taking on the best in the business, especially with the bat.