England has traditionally been vulnerable to spin. They have tried promoting spin among their domestic players, employed spinners from the sub-continent to play county matches and coach their players as well and yet, despite being the team to beat this year, if there’s one chink in the English armoury, it’s handling spin bowling. One cannot forget England batting great Mike Gatting getting bamboozled by a Shane Warne delivery. The delivery has gone on to be regarded as ‘The ball of the century.’
This IPL, West Indian bowler of Indian origin Sunil Narine has been making heads turn just as much as his deliveries. Being one of Kolkata Knight Riders’ bowling mainstays, Narine has quickly emerged as an MVP (Most Valuable Player) and more recently, his sharp bowling affected a big win in KKR’s 32 run win over Mumbai Indians at Wankhede stadium yesterday. Narine finished with 4-15 (his second four wicket haul in the competition), which included the prize wickets of batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and emerging superstar Rohit Sharma who was fresh from a century in the previous game. Narine also picked MI captain Harbhajan Singh who has been known to knock a few out of the park and bowler RP Singh.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Narine who has picked up as many as three man of the match awards this IPL said, “I'm living a dream at the moment and my hard work is paying off. Hopefully it will continue. I wasn't too worried about the wickets. I knew they would help me but not as much as this.”
England presently are the toughest team to beat at home and Narine could have been the difference maker. A quality spinner against a good batting attack has always been a lip-smacking contest. Way back in time, Shane Warne or Mutthiah Muralitharan taking on the famous Indian batting made for some inviting cricket. Warne of course couldn’t live up to the challenge, but Murali made a match of the contests.
During a discussion after one of the IPL games, Narine had candidly admitted that he was named ‘Sunil’, after legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar. Ironically, he made this admission to Gavaskar himself, who was talking to the young spinner from Trinidad & Tobago.
It may well be a while before the West Indies cricket board would be able to bring Narine back into the national side and assuming Mumbai would make it to the final stages of the IPL, by then the test series against England would well be over. West Indies are known to play their cricket with a lot of flair and they give it their all. It’s just that they lack international practice and big-match temperament. Narine could have provided the right amount of bite to the side and one could have expected a possible upset.
Narine, yet to make his test debut, has 14 wickets in 8 one day games and 21 in his 12 matches in IPL 5, the most by any other bowler.