Sunil Narine, KKR’s all-rounder of value

The Trinidadian rose to the occasion when captain Gautam Gambhir promoted him in the batting order and made the most of his pinch-hitting skills in 2017.

Sunil Narine played some breezy knocks during the powerplay overs to give KKR a distinct advantage in several matches.   -  AFP

Known for befuddling batsmen with his mysterious spin bowling, Sunil Narine has established himself as a proficient T20 batsman as well in the 11th season of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The Trinidadian, who played crucial roles in Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) title wins in 2012 and 2014, rose to the occasion when captain Gautam Gambhir promoted him in the batting order and made the most of his pinch-hitting skills in 2017.

Narine, who gathered 224 runs in 16 matches apart from taking 10 wickets, played some breezy knocks during the powerplay overs to give KKR a distinct advantage in several matches.

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Even after the change in leadership in 2018, Narine’s value as a batsman grew in the KKR camp. This season, he has performed more consistently to provide an early impetus to the KKR innings.

He has scored 298 runs, including two half-centuries, at an average of 22.92 and an impressive strike-rate of 182. 82, and is placed 20th among all batsmen, and the fourth in the KKR list (after Wednesday’s match between Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians).

Interestingly, Narine’s success with the bat in 2018 has become synonymous with KKR’s success. In six out of the seven wins of KKR, Narine has scored 21 or more. In five out of the six KKR defeats, Narine has crossed 20 only once.

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Narine, who has also donned the colours of different franchises in T20 leagues in Australia, West Indies, South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh, has scored 33 per cent of his total runs (1,569) for the purple brigade in the last two years to emerge as a reliable all-rounder in the shortest format.

Besides, Narine has excelled in his primary duty as a spinner. He has been the go-to man for Dinesh Karthik, whenever the opposition batsmen are on a rampage. The soft-spoken West Indian has claimed 15 wickets at a strike-rate of 19.60 and an economy of less than eight to be the fifth bowler overall, and the best in KKR camp.

Narine’s achievement appears all the more admirable when one considers that the Trinidadian, who was reported in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), rectified his bowling action before joining the IPL.

KKR will hope that Narine, who will turn 30 on May 26, continues with his fine form and helps the side achieve a creditable finish in the IPL.