Sunil Narine was first bought into open the innings by Gautham Gambhir in 2017. The top’s move turned out to be a masterstroke, with Sunil Narine immediately finding success as a pinch hitter. Along with Chris Lynn provided some magical starts for the Knight Riders while disturbing the bowling side’s plans.
A triumphant Narine burst at the top was enough to release the pressure on the firm middle order. With an aggressive batting style, Sunil Narine opened as a pinch hitter to use the field restrictions.
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The idea seemed to work well, with the Knight Riders getting some incredible starts in the previous seasons.
The approach to send Narine early in search of aggressive starts hasn’t been very successful this season. Despite the pitches being flatter and the ball not swinging much, Narine has been unable to provide the openings he is known to provide. He made 27 runs in four games, at an average of 6.75. His strike-rate has also been under 100, which is unimpressive from a pinch-hitter.
Of late, teams have discovered how to keep Narine silent in the powerplay. While Narine can take apart spinners and medium pacers at any stage of the game, his ability to play the faster bowlers comes into question. The question in his power is where teams target him by bowling quick and short at him. The short-pitch tactic is a common tactic against him and seems to the reason for his downfall as an opener.
Now that teams have found a Narine weakness, it may be suitable to look for other options at the top for a few games. Doing so may help them discover a new opener while also reducing Narine’s burden, who is already their trump card with the ball.
With Rahul Tripathi in the side, changing the opening pair will not be a big challenge. Rahul Tripathi burst into the scene with some fantastic performances up the order for the Rising Pune Supergiant. He is an aggressive opener and can replicate the starts provided by Narine with ease. He has also been a consistent performer in the past.
His ability was underutilized following a strong season. In the Royal, a team with strong openers, he couldn’t get many chances in the XI. Following a few silent seasons, he has gone under the radar a bit.
He batted in the middle-order in the game against the Delhi Capitals. He was sent into bat at number eight and helped Morgan bring the fun back to life. His 36 off 16 was filled with some good shots and had many impacts, given the state of the match, and how he was underused in the lineup.
The innings, however, would have showered some attention on him.
With a potential replacement for Narine at the top, it would be interesting to see if the Knight Riders stick with the same plan or look to change the batting lineup a little.
Doing so would allow Rahul Tripathi to get more time in the middle. Being a skilled and technically sound batsman, it would also enable the Knight Riders to get off to steady starts consistently with him and Shubman Gill at the top.
Pushing Narine to his old position may result in the Knight Riders losing out on the chance of quick starts. However, his presence in the middle order will still help strengthen the Knight Riders batting as they’d retain the confidence of a deep batting lineup, with an aggressive batsman like Narine in the side.
Taking Narine away from the top order will also help release some of the burdens on Narine. Sunil Narine is already the strike bowler for the Kolkata Knight Riders, and a small change in the lineup may help focus on his bowling even better.
We will soon see whether the Knight Riders make the small shift in the batting position. The change may result in better use of resources, with Rahul Tripathi batting at his best work, while Narine can focus solely on his bowling.
The Kolkata Knight Riders are to take on the Chennai Super Kings on 7th October in an exciting clash.