A Throwback To The Narine Of Old

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - A throwback to the Narine of old. Narine picked up four wickets against RCB in the Eliminator.

A Throwback To The Narine Of OldNarine picked up four wickets against RCB in the Eliminator.

Rohit Sharma against South Africa in 2019 World Cup. Rahul Tewatia against Punjab Kings last year. Andre Russell against Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2021.

On reflection, the above-mentioned players changed the game in an over. Rohit against Rabada when South Africa were on top. Tewatia overcoming the nightmarish first 23 balls he faced with a 30-run over. And Russell's double-wicket over in Abu Dhabi.

Sunil Narine now has done it twice with the bat in hand in IPL 2021. Against Delhi Capitals, he took on Rabada and against RCB his three sixes on the first three balls he faced reduced a tricky chase to a routine one. Kolkata Knight Riders now find themselves in the second Qualifier and with a chance to take on Chennai Super Kings in the final. And while Shakib Al Hasan and Varun Chakravarthy were equally responsible for thrusting KKR past RCB, it was Narine's contribution that ensured Virat Kohli walked away with another titleless season.

Narine has won two IPL titles with KKR. He's experienced those highs. On the other hand, Narine also knows how the lows feel. The 2020 season was his worst with five wickets and 120 runs from 10 matches. There were question marks over his action once again and there was a rut with both bat and ball in hand. This year, Narine didn't feature in KKR's opening three matches. He had just three wickets during the India leg of the tournament. Narine will now walk into the second Qualifier as the second-highest wicket-taker for his side.

For someone who knows how to keep his emotions in check and the words to the bare minimum to the outside world, Narine finally let go after the win against DC. “I've been through a lot.” A poker face, just five words but you'll be hard-pressed to ignore the emotions. On Monday, when Narine went 6, 6, 6, he not only had struck more sixes than RCB managed (0) but also turned the tide just when it seemed KKR were about to suffer a similar middle-overs slump that Kohli's men had endured.

After Devdutt Padikkal fell on the first ball of the sixth over, RCB managed just six boundaries in the next 83 balls. Narine covered 75 per cent of those runs in three balls to leave RCB's chance deflated. “His impact on the game was huge. He changed momentum when he went out to bat and swung it completely in our favour,” Morgan would go on to say about Narine's impact with the bat.

Long before KKR introduced the pinch-hitting allrounder to the IPL watching audience, Narine was a hard to get away cunning spinner who, in his prime, made the most destructive batters look like amateurs. Not often can commentators take the liberty to say Sachin Tendulkar looked ‘clueless' like Ravi Shastri did after the India legend was bowled by Narine. In Sharjah, Narine became only the second bowler to dismiss Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell in an innings after Harpreet Brar. Add the wicket of KS Bharat, Narine not only picked a four-wicket haul to derail RCB but also became the only bowler to take four four-wicket hauls against a team in IPL.

It was a throwback to the good ol' days that Narine had become accustomed to in his first three seasons in IPL. The dexterity back, the pace just perfect and the line impeccable. On the night, as Narine waited till the tenth over, Lockie Ferguson, Chakravarthy and Shakib tied down RCB. After Padikkal's wicket, RCB played 27 deliveries without a boundary when Bharat fell to Narine. Till the 15th over after losing the opening wicket, RCB managed just four boundaries with one off the outside edge. In the death overs, they struck just two.

Narine, with his remodelled action, doesn't quite have the same zip on the carrom ball as before. And that's forced him to change his strategy a touch. While he could rely on his carrom ball to open up the batter and force him into a false shot, it's now more about skidding it straight and keeping it as an option for bowled and lbw. Narine preyed on RCB's desperation. He bowled just one full ball and kept hitting the good length mark to strangle the batter. Once the RCB batters failed to open up the off side gameplay, Narine got them out slogging across the line on a pitch offering just the right amount of assistance to keep the bowler in the game.

Kohli was bowled trying to slog an offspinner while de Villiers lost his poles after being done by the length and beaten by the turn. Maxwell too succumbed slogging across the line and sending a top edge to short third. As the Australian walked past the dugout, Kohli looked down, let out a sigh and kept looking at his fingers. At 112 for 5, the game was probably done but RCB did manage some useful runs right at the death.

“Our bowlers have shown us the way how to be aggressive with the ball and how to try and take wickets. Identifying when to hold back and when we need to be a bit defensive,” Morgan said about the turnaround. “Sunil bowled as good as I've seen him bowl. The guy is consistently exceptional every time he takes the field and always seems to take big wickets in the game. And today, he managed to do that.”

KKR are still two steps away from IPL glory. With Narine in form, and with several things falling in place, they'll back themselves to go the distance. Narine, with all his limitations, may never hit the highs of 2012, 2013 and 2014. There may never be the absolute dominance he had over batters. He has, however, shown he's still capable of firing the side to the pomp of 2012 and 2014. Having said that, Sharjah was more than just a throwback to the good ol' days.

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