Sunil Narine has struggled in the ongoing edition of the Indian Premier League. Featuring for Kolkata Knight Riders, the West Indies spinner has claimed only seven wickets in 11 matches, while contributing just 14 runs with the bat.
At KKR this season, Varun Chakravarthy (17 wickets in 11 innings) and Suyash Sharma (10 wickets in 8 innings) have spearheaded the spin bowling, with Narine looking a pale shadow of his former self.
While there have been question marks over his future with the side, former West Indies international Daren Ganga believes that ‘taking a shift in franchise might freshen’ Narine up.
“He (Narine) is operating in a KKR team where he’s got two additional spinners. That was never the case before. He operated primarily with (Varun) Chakravarthy. But now, he’s got to operate with Suyash Sharma (as well), which makes it a little bit different for him as a player,” Ganga said on the sidelines of an event organised by CricViz.
“When it comes to his bowling, he’s been very much the same. He’s been consistent with line and lengths.
“I’ve had the chance to speak with him. The lack of success that they’ve experienced as a team has put a lot more pressure on him as a bowler. He’s got to bowl in situations where conditions are very good for batting. We saw that Kolkata is one of the best batting venues in the IPL,” Ganga said.
KKR showed faith in Narine and retained him ahead of the auction this season, but the spinner has failed to impress and been wicketless in most games this time around.
“If you take three spinners in a complement of five bowlers in a T20 innings someone is not going to perform in terms of taking wickets. His economy has been very similar to Chakravarthy and Sharma – they are beneficiaries while he is operating alongside them…
“He has had major challenges with re-modelling his action. He had to do (it) on a continuous basis, he has been called and warned a few times. He had to step out of international cricket because of that scrutiny. But for me Sunil Narine is still a formidable force, maybe, him taking a shift in franchise might freshen him up and his impact, who knows?” Ganga said.
India favourite in WTC final
Ahead of the World Test Championship final next month, Ganga believes the Indian team must use their spinners well to rip apart Australia. “For Australia, it’s about playing against an Indian side that’s going to use their strength - spin. That’s something that they would use to penetrate Australia. Australia’s batting is an area of concern, there’s sort of reluctance around David Warner and his thoughts of leaving red ball cricket. That to me, is not a strong position for a side walking into the WTC final,” the former West Indies captain, said.
“Australia’s bad days in cricket are not very far from their very good days. (Otherwise) they are very consistent. But India has to be smart in terms of how they penetrate. Again, use of spinners, also making sure they can prise their batting and can get into a Steve Smith and a Labuschagne as early as possible. Those are the key sort of points for India winning the WTC,” Ganga said, adding with a smile, “and of course, Rohit Sharma getting into form and Virat Kohli firing (are important)…”
Rohit, the India captain, has struggled in the Indian Premier League so far and legends like Sunil Gavaskar have recommended that he takes a break, freshen his mind before the World Test Championship. Ganga, too, agrees. “That might be a good option for him. I felt that in a couple of matches that he played as an impact player with Suryakumar Yadav leading the side that can also be a common ground for him to get a little more time for himself so that he can be fresh when it comes to his batting in the WTC final…”
While he understands that it will be a battle between the two quality sides, the former West Indies batter has put his money on India. “I will give India the nod, they have a score to settle. They have been in this situation before. There is a deep desire (in India) to conquer this WTC final, (which) they could not do the last time,” he said.
India reached the WTC final in 2021, but lost to New Zealand in the summit clash.
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