Sunil Narine, the talismanic cricketer in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) ranks, might not have succeeded in guiding his franchise to victory against Delhi Capitals (DC) in the IPL match at the Brabourne Stadium on April 10, but the West Indian certainly proved that he was a class apart in a team dotted with superstars.
Just when it seemed that Delhi Capitals were about to blast off like a rocket and amass a mammoth total, Narine was pressed into service quite early, and the 33-year-old, who has made deception his mantra and pressure his ally, bowled astutely to make it difficult for the likes of Rishabh Pant and Australian David Warner to line him up.
Narine bowled on a back of a length, at times quicker and flatter, with his last two overs just going for four runs as he picked up the wicket of Lalit Yadav, a plumb LBW call after the batter missed a back-of-a-length delivery hitting the middle stump.
He then snared the big-hitting Rovman Powell in his last over, after he slogged a full ball on off stump only for the substitute fielder Rinku Singh to hold on to a fine catch at fine leg.
It was only after his incisive 14th and 16th overs, and Umesh Yadav’s 17th, that Delhi Capitals’ run-rate dipped below 10-an-over for the first time in the innings and restricted them to 215/5, which at one point looked to breach the 250-mark.
Narine has so far in the season emerged the most economical bowler, with an economy of 4.85. He has conceded the second fewest boundaries — seven (five fours and two sixes) — for any bowler to have bowled a minimum 15 overs this season.
His ratio of balls per boundary — 17.1 — is second only to Delhi’s Mustafizur Rahman’s 18, according to kkr.in. His figures so far have read 0/15, 1/12, 1/23, 0/26 and 2/21. In a squad that has the likes of Umesh Yadav, Andre Russell and Pat Cummins, Narine has shunned limelight, going about his task in a cool and calculated manner.
His approach has remained steadfast be it when the rival teams are 138 all out or 215/5. Against DC on April 10, when every other KKR bowler was rendered ineffective — barring Andre Russell 1/16 in two overs — with the Delhi franchise scoring at over 10-an-over, Narine’s figures read a miserly 4-0-21-2.
At a time when Prithvi Shaw and David Warner prioritised boundary-hitting when the likes of Umesh Yadav, Rasikh Salam and Pat Cummins were bowling in powerplay — smashing eight fours and a maximum in the first four overs itself and pocketing 76 per cent of the runs in boundaries — KKR skipper Shreyas Iyer had no option but to introduce spin as early as the fifth over.
Varun Chakaravarthy’s over went for eight and Narine, in the following over, conceded 10, the first time both had bowled together in the power-play this season.
“It was definitely based on the start they got and Prithvi (Shaw) is someone who doesn’t go really big against the spinners as I’ve played with him before,” Iyer spoke on kkr.in. “So, since he got a really good start, I wanted to restrict the momentum that he had created at the start and I felt that Varun and Sunil both are experienced bowlers, so they could stick to it at that point of time and give us a really good hold.”