At times, it can be a tad harsh on number nine, ten and jack as they get very few chances with the willow. While it’s fully justified that the more accomplished batsmen deserve the top slots in the batting line up, the so-called ‘tail-enders’ don’t get adequate opportunities to showcase their talent with the bat.
In One Day games, and more so in T20s, the lower-order hardly gets to display their prowess with the bat. During a chunk of his career, Sunil Narine batted way down the order to put any sort of an impact and hence his batting hardly got into the limelight.
The breathtaking talent from Trinidad and Tobago has already been a revelation with his wily off-breaks. After going through several modifications in his bowling action courtesy the 15-degree rule, Narine could easily have faded away after initially taking the cricketing world by storm.
Instead, he churned out further methods of getting under the skins of batsmen.
Of late, his batting has taken the driver’s seat for him to be considered a proper all-rounder, at least in the shortest format of the game. Chris Lynn suffered a shoulder injury, which eventually turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the swashbuckling West Indian, as he was sent to open with the license of going hammer and tongs from the word go.
Before IPL 2017, Narine opened the innings successfully for Melbourne Renegades in the 2016-17 edition of Big Bash League. Perhaps because of this, it’s not bewildering that in this season’s Indian Premier League, he possesses a staggering strike rate of 182 in eight games.
In the contest between Knights and Kings XI Punjab, not even in their wildest dreams had Punjab thought that their bowlers would be carted around by someone who was opening for the first time in the tournament. While many thought the first match was a fluke, Narine rubbed off the misconception with a couple of jaw-dropping knocks in the following innings.
The icing on the cake was that Gautam Gambhir got a much-needed opening partner for the rest of the season. If Kolkata Knights Riders go on to muster something significant in this year’s IPL, then Narine’s promotion, palpably, will turn out to be pivotal.
The turf at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata during the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore wasn’t a belter by any stretch of the imagination.
On a pitch where a single run was hard to eke out, Narine hammered 34 runs in 17 balls, which not only took KKR off to a flier, but also ensured that the target became a mountain to climb for the Red Army. Though Knightriders were unable to fetch a win against Gujarat Lions, Narine’s knock deserves a mention, as he racked up his highest T20 score with a knock of 42 runs in 17 balls.
Once upon a time against Maxwell
Narine’s batting story takes us down memory lane in an ODI between West Indies and Australia at WACA in Perth. Glenn Maxwell may be a part-time bowler, but even then it’s some task for a lower-order batsman to dispatch him all round the park with sheer disparagement.
Way back in 2013, Narine entertained the audience with a mini-blinder, a knock of 24 runs from 6 balls.
When he carted his first four balls over the ropes for monstrous sixes, it marked the introduction of something special. West Indies might have lost the contest by 54 runs, but the left-hander’s knock was something which took everyone by surprise.
However, lack of opportunities turned detrimental as after that knock, Narine hardly got any significant score to follow up. Quite expectedly, the impact of his knock on the memories faded away and Narine was back to being a tail-ender.
Re-birth of a batsman
It might have come out of the blue, but Melbourne Renegades’ decision to use Narine as an opener has given his career a whole new direction. The innings lasted 13 balls, that included a couple of fours and a six, totalling 21 runs. Twitter and whole cricketing fraternity were all praises for the show Narine put on with his cameo.
In the recent T20 series versus Pakistan, he was promoted in one of the games and in the same series, he almost took West Indies over the line by scorching a couple of boundaries in the last over to medium pace of Hassan Ali.
Now, the stint with Knight Riders has re-ignited his career as a batsman and it can only go on an upward curve, particularly because of the belligerence and consistency of his knocks.
Albeit it’s way too early to call him an all-rounder, presence of some serious hitting skills is quite evident. Such has been Narine’s ascendency with the bat that it drew comments from leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal that he will treat the Trinidadian as a proper batsman while bowling to him.
Narine has been an essential component of West Indies with the ball and a healthy future is in the offing for the potential all-rounder. The Indian Premier League hasn’t only turned around Indian cricketers’ careers but also helped players like Shaun Marsh and Sunil Narine himself to grab public’s attention.
Adding batting to his repertoire will also add to his value in the Fantasy League and after this season, it won’t be surprising if he is tagged as an all-rounder in the Fantasy tournaments, played by millions across the country.