Sunil Narine has been apart of the Knight Riders since 2012.
He came in as a mystery spinner and was a trump card for Gautham Gambhir. He bowls the crucial overs of the match and looks to take the momentum of the batting side with his smart bowling.
He was crucial in the Knight Riders first title win in 2012.
Over the years the way Narine’s role has changed considerably.
He started off as a bowler who comes in and bowls tight overs at crucial junctures.
As the years went on, Narine took up the new ball and also had his overs reserved for the death.
Sunil Narine took up every possible role as a spinner in the side and bowled across the innings.
He suffered a mini-slump in 2014 when his action was reported. He modified his action but it took time for him to regain his old effectiveness.
It was during that time when Narine looked at other phases of innings to bowl in. He was bought in to bowl the early overs and later the death overs as well. His variations reduced for a brief period but he covered his loss with accuracy.
Kolkata Knight Riders have always been a revolutionary team in the IPL. They always look to try something unique and it was in 2017 when they surprised everyone.
Chris Lynn was bought in to open the batting and his style of play is aggression against pace-bowlers.
With the thought that teams may attack Chris Lynn with spin to tie him down, Sunil Narine was promoted to go after the spinners.
The trick worked with Chris Lynn attacking pace while Narine went after the spinners.
Narine grew in confidence and continued his role as a trump card with the ball and pinch hitter with the bat.
Narine and Lynn formed a good pair at the top which was broken this year when Lynn was released.
While Lynn’s departure allowed Gill to open the batting, the plan backfired on Narine.
In the absence of Lynn, teams managed to target Narine with the short-ball. The short-ball tactic kept Narine quiet in the powerplay and also resulted in his wicket.
He started IPL 2020 with poor batting form and his role as a pinch-hitter was not coming off well.
His bowling was still very effective as teams struggled to pick him.
Though he didn’t pick up too many wickets, Narine restrained the batsmen well, barring a few occasions where he was taken for runs.
His role as a bowler changed from game to game as well.
In the initial stages of the tournament he’d bowl in the powerplay and have one or two over spells.
With pitches taking less turn then expected, Narine tried to maintain economy rather than search for wickets.
His tight bowling also helped Varun Chakravarthy pick up wickets, forming a good spin bowling partnership with him.
Against the Chennai Super Kings, Narine took up yet another role.
Sunil Narine may have not opened the batting, but he still made an appearance earlier than expected.
Sunil Narine came into bat at number four when the spinners were operating. As teams managed to tie him down with pace upfront, Narine’s role changed to a middle-order pinch hitter. He came in and made 17 off nine balls doing his job well.
His innings provided momentum in the middle-overs and allowed KKR to launch early.
His appearance in the middle order was not the only new feature of the match.
While bowling, the side was defending 168. The Super Kings got off to a good start and Narine only came in to bowl during the 12th over.
He bowled a very tight spell and pulled the game back for the Knight Riders.
The decision to hold him back was initially questioned, but as the game went on it turned out to be a masterstroke.
He did the same against the Kings XI Punjab bowling in the death and pulling another game back from defeat.
He returned to form with the bat against the Delhi Capitals while batting in the middle-order.
He came in and was fortunate to face Ashwin at the start of the innings. Narine has a good record against Ashwin and attacked him well during his 64.
His innings against the Capitals helped him open a new branch in his game as a middle-order batsman.
In a tournament where batsmen have been slow through the middle, Narine’s aggression is crucial to the Knight Riders who can also look to field a more balanced composition.
With him doing both roles, Knight Riders not only bat deeper but can play more bowlers allowing the captain to have more options.
With Narine taking up newer roles, his value as a player keeps increasing.
He has now shown the ability to not only bowl at any stage of the innings but also be aggressive with the bat anywhere in the lineup.
His role as a player keeps evolving with more and more uses being displayed and he surely is an asset to the Knight Riders.