West Indies limited-overs captain Kieron Pollard has categorically said that all-rounder Sunil Narine will not be added to the 15-member squad of the two-time ICC World T20 champions despite his all-round performance for Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Kolkata Knight Riders in the ongoing season.
Narine came up with a superb performance in IPL 2021 Eliminator against the Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to keep his team’s hopes alive of a third IPL title. Narine took four wickets in the match, including that of Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell, besides scoring a stroke-filled 26 off 15 balls to help KKR set up a Qualifier 2 showdown with Delhi Capitals later on Wednesday.
Since the resumption of the IPL season in UAE, Narine has snared 11 wickets in eight games, conceding 6.12 runs per over.
The winner of Qualifier 2 will play Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2021 final, two days before the start of the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman.
However, Pollard said that Narine would not be included in the squad on the basis of his performance in the IPL, “barring injury or illness” to any player.
“That has been explained. If I add my two cents or my words on how his non-inclusion came about, then it could be spun — just like how he’s bowling on these Sharjah wickets — in all different directions. Let’s deal with the fifteen guys that we have here at this moment in time, which is more important, and see if we can rally around these guys and see if we can defend our title,” Pollard told espncricinfo late on Tuesday.
Narine has not been in the West Indies side since August 2019 for several reasons — notable among them being the controversy surrounding his bowling action — and missed the cut for the T20 World Cup squad last month after “failing to meet Cricket West Indies’ (CWI) minimum fitness criteria”.
CWI’s chief selector Roger Harper was then quoted as saying that, “Narine is a great miss for a team like this in a tournament like this. Any team would miss having a bowler of that quality in the team but (he) did not make our fitness standards.”
“I have no comments on that. Enough has been said on that. I think persons have explained the reason of his non-inclusion at this point in time. For me personally, I know Sunil Narine as a friend first, before an international cricketer. We grew up playing cricket together. He is a world-class cricketer,” added Pollard.
On Andre Russell’s fitness, who has not played for KKR since September 26 due to an injury, the West Indian skipper said that he was hoping the player would get fit in time for the World Cup.
“Before I make any assumptions as to what he can or he can’t do, we need to do our assessment first as a team. We haven’t had the opportunity to see him. We’ve gotten reports as to what he has done. I wouldn’t want to get into trying to say what he can or can’t do at this point in time.
“He’s (Russell) a critical person for our team and we’d love for him to be 100%, but we have to deal with what’s in front of us. Let’s see what happens over the next couple of days. KKR have another game tomorrow and then, if they get through to the final, on Friday. When we see him as a management staff, we’ll be able to assess and ascertain what he can or can’t do, but we’re looking forward to having a fit Andre Russell if possible.”