Kolkata: West Indies off-spinner Sunil Narine got the full backing of his Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir who termed him as an asset and said there can be no back-up for the mystery bowler.
Narine got a clean chit for his suspect action two days before the start of IPL-8 Twenty20 cricket tournament from the bowling review committee of the BCCI. "He's an integral part of KKR, he will always be an integral part... Even if he bowls a straight ball, he will be an asset for us and will always remain an asset. That's the confidence we have on Sunil (Narine). We never thought that we needed a back-up spinner for him," Gambhir said when asked whether they strengthened their spin line-up in the auction with suspense prevailing over the Trinidad offspinner.
"There can never be a backup for Sunil. I always maintain even if he bowls a straight bowl it will be an advantage. That's the aura he has had on the opposition over the last three years." Narine was reported for suspect action in last season's CLT20 and went on to miss the recently concluded World Cup.
Narine went back to the nets to rework on his action and was cleared by the ICC after his bio-mechanical test in Loughborough but BCCI took a retest at the the Sri Ramachandra University in Chennai before giving a green signal two days ago.
Gambhir said they were always confident to get Narine back, especially after remodelling his action. "He was pretty confident as well. I'm happy for him. Hats off to him that he's changed his action in such a short span of time. I'm very happy for him, having known the success he has achieved for KKR," he said.
Gambhir sounded confident that Narine would come back strong. "He's a quality player, a quality individual and a tough guy. All these things will come to his advantage. In such situations, first you need to be tough mentally to absorb whatever has happened and come back strong. He has showed how mentally tough he's in the past."
Kolkata had bought KC Cariappa during IPL auction this year and Gambhir said: "The strategy to pick little known players like KC Cariappa and Kuldeep Yadav was to groom them alongside senior pros like Narine, Brad Hogg. "They were never for back-up. Yes, we want different spinners, and we have based out entire team on that because if you see most of the wickets in India turn and start gripping especially in the later half of the tournament. That's the strategy.
"At the same time it would be nice to have spinners who can always complement Sunil. Someone like Cariappa, Suryakumar Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav to have Sunil and Brad Hogg around them, will always help. It will help develop Indian cricket. "People and commentators talk a lot about the franchises and it's about walking the talk and we have done that. We don't want people to talk about us and rather show it for the better of Indian cricket. I think we have done that pretty well over the last few years and we'll continue to do that. It's about developing off the field as well," he added.
On their 2.4 crore acquisition in Cariappa who's yet to play a Ranji Trophy match, Gambhir said: "We have never picked him thinking that he will be a match-winner fo us. We wanted to groom and develop him alongside Sunil for the betterment of Indian cricket. He's young as well. He'll learn a lot from Sunil. "I am yet to see him in a match so I don't know whether he would be a game changer. But obviously he's different. We will see over the course of time, how he shapes up along with Kuldeep. Hopefully they will play a big role."