IPL moments that don't fade away: Sunil Narine making absolute fools out of world-class batsmen
Spin in T20 cricket is like an exotic ingredient; you never quite know what it does to the recipe. Sunil Narine returned match figures of 4-19 for Kolkata Knight Riders in their win against Kings XI Punjab yesterday, a game in which the team totals were scored at over 9 runs per over. That tells you all you need to know about how special an art spin bowling is; in particular, how special a spin bowler Narine is.
It has been a strange IPL for the West Indian, who has been KKR’s talismanic mystery spinner – helping them win two IPL titles. He has given Gautam Gambhir match-winning spells time and time again, befuddling even the best of batsmen. This IPL though, he has been in and out of the games, reported for a suspect action, cleared, then reported again, asked not to bowl certain kinds of deliveries – it has been a real rollercoaster ride.
Yet, Narine’s magic resides as much in his beguiling calmness as in his fingers that turn in strange ways before the ball is delivered, plotting and deceiving. Picked after a stunning Champions League for Trinidad & Tobago, the IPL Player of the Tournament in 2012 has been KKR’s main strength in the last few years. He has managed 24, 22 and 21 wickets in the last three seasons with economy rates of 5.47, 5.46 and 6.35 respectively.
Let’s take a look at three of his several top spells in the last three seasons that he has played in the IPL – spells in which he made fools out of world-class batsmen, creating memories that simply don’t fade away. Much like Axe Signature’s latest campaign, these moments of magic by Narine keep lingering in our consciousness!
4/15 against Mumbai Indians, 2012
In terms of stats, this was not Narine’s best spell of IPL 2012. Against Kings XI Punjab, he had figures of 5/19 in a losing cause. But this match came towards the end of the season, when most teams were in a mad rush to finish in the Top 4.
KKR batting first posted just 140 against the Mumbai Indians. However, MI capitulated to a score even lower than that – 108 all out. And that was largely thanks to one man, the magician from the Caribbean.
Narine picked the big wickets of Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma along with those of Harbhajan Singh and RP Singh in the lower order. More than the wickets he took, however, it was the manner in which he tied up the top-class Mumbai batsmen in knots that was worth remembering. In fact, MI were cruising at 60 for 1 when Narine completely bamboozled Tendulkar with his variations, getting him out to trigger the collapse.
Narine went at an economy of 4.73, keeping up with his season stats, where he had an economy of 5.47 along with a rich haul of 24 wickets at just 13.5 apiece.
4/20 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, 2014
KKR batted first in this match, posting 195 on an excellent batting track where the lowest economy rate for RCB was 8 per over. It seemed to be a paradise for batsmen where the ball was coming on to the bat at a comfortable speed, and where all the bowlers struggled to contain.
But when Narine came on to bowl, he made the pitch look like a minefield. Against a batting attack that boasted of Chris Gayle, Yuvraj Singh, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, Narine registered figures of 4/20 to snuff out any chance the RCB team had of chasing the total down.
The Trinidad native effected two double strikes, getting Virat Kohli and Yogesh Takawale in the same over before snapping up the big wickets of Yuvraj and De Villiers in another over to dent the RCB chase completely. He picked four of the five RCB wickets to fall, and KKR eventually won the game by 30 runs.
4/13 against Delhi Daredevils, 2013
In one of the most economical spells of that year, Narine had figures of 4-13 against Delhi Daredevils which helped bundle them out for 128, a score KKR chased down quite easily. It was almost a case of a team being undone by a single player, as the Delhi batsmen had no answer to Narine’s tricks and ended up looking like amateurs
Bowling within the power-play, the Trinidadian got the big wicket of David Warner. He then bowled the 16th, 18th and 20th overs, getting a wicket in each of those – Irfan Pathan, Andre Russell and Ashish Nehra respectively.
While the new ball bowlers of KKR were slightly expensive in that game, Narine along with Rajat Bhatia and L Balaji applied the brakes, slowing DD down by taking wickets regularly. It was a terrific display of Narine’s mastery, and a microcosm of what has made KKR such a successful IPL team in recent times.
With his enchanting craft and mysterious bag of tricks, Sunil Narine has turned in some of the most memorable moments of the IPL. It’s no wonder KKR always seem prepared to fight till their dying breath for him!