Zee Media Bureau/Dattaraj Thaly
New Delhi: More things change, more they remain the same. This is true, especially for Kolkata Knight Riders` spinner Sunil Narine. Ever since he joined KKR, he has had almost three identical seasons with the maroon and gold brigade.
The “mystery spinner” has never taken less than 20 wickets during any edition of the IPL. In 2012, he claimed 24 wickets from 15 matches. In 2013 Narine picked up 22 wickets from 16 games. This year, he has 20 scalps with one more game to go.
Narine`s record of 66 wickets in 46 games is undoubtedly impressive. But that`s not all. With an economy rate of 5.65 over three seasons, the West Indian has had a devastating effect on opposition teams by crippling their run-rate.
For KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, the four overs of Sunil Narine are like gold-dust. Narine`s consistency is so phenomenal that Gambhir only has to determine, the best time to throw the ball to the spinner and he is virtually guaranteed of the results, be it stemming the flow of runs or picking up wickets.
Unable to decipher Narine, opposition batsmen have been in a dilemma. They either have to score runs keeping in mind Narine has four overs up his sleeve or decide to take him on with no guarantee of being able to pick up which way the ball would spin. In Narine, KKR have a bowler who could bowl during any period of the match with equal ease.
Yet again in the final of IPL 7 against in-form Kings XI Punjab, Gambhir will be looking forward to Narine to contain the flamboyant batting line up of the opposition that includes Glenn Maxwell, David Miller, George Bailey and the centurion from the previous match, Virender Sehwag.
While KKR have peaked at the right time, they can`t quite match up to the consistency in batting of KXIP with the exception of Robin Uthappa. Hence the bowling is where the battle will have to be won for KKR with Narine leading the way.
KKR having won 8 of the 14 matches, hold the edge in head-to-head meeting between the two teams. In this season, KKR have won two matches out of the three played. KKR have been part of an IPL final before as this will be KXIP`s first appearance.
Sunil Narine has decided not to join the West Indies team for a three Test series against New Zealand so he could be part of the 3-hour IPL 7 final extravaganza. He should expect to receive flak from all quarters for this decision for putting club over country. But with his genius on their side, KKR are definitely not complaining.