The past few months would have been tough for Sunil Narine. He had to give the World Cup a miss in an effort to remodel his action; this, after being reported for a suspect bowling action. To Narine’s credit, he has gone back to working out the basics, changed his action to a legitimate one and has now been cleared by the BCCI’s review committee to take part in KKR’s Pepsi IPL 2015 campaign. It is almost a no-brainer that Narine has been the nucleus of KKR’s bowling plans and captain Gautam Gambhir was visibly happy to have his ace spinner back in the side.
Mumbai Indians (MI) Squad IPL 8 - 2015
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) Squad IPL 8 - 2015
“I am really happy for him. I have always felt and said in the past that he is an integral part of KKR and will always be an integral part of KKR. Hats off to him that he has changed and remodeled his action in such a short span of time. I believe, even if Sunil bowls a straight ball, he has always been an asset for us and will always be one. That is the confidence we have. Hopefully he can continue the success he has achieved for KKR.”
When asked about Narine’s effectiveness with a remodeled action, Gambhir didn’t wish to pass on any judgments until match day, but he believed Narine’s mental toughness would come handy when he walks out to bowl against Mumbai Indians on Wednesday. “He is a quality player and a quality individual. He is a tough guy. All these things will come to his advantage because in such situations you need to be mentally tough to absorb whatever has happened. To come back in such a short span of time has shown how mentally tough he is. It is going to be an advantage when he comes and plays the game tomorrow.”
KKR have a plethora of spinners in their line-up with the likes of Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav and new inclusions Brad Hogg and KC Cariappa, who has been termed as the mystery spinner to watch out for this season. Gambhir believed spinners have always been integral to KKR’s strategies and will play an effective role as the tournament progresses.
“You want different spinners, there is no doubt about that. That is how we have based our entire team on. If you see most of the wickets in India, especially in the latter half of the tournament, it starts spinning and gripping and that has always been a strategy. I am happy that I have got resources and different options under my sleeve. It is always better to have a problem of plenty rather than a problem of not having many. When you have different options, you play different combinations. You have got all the bases covered.”
But did KKR try to stack up spinners in the auction as a backup for Sunil Narine? “We never thought that we wanted a backup spinner for Sunil. There can’t be a backup for him. I have always maintained that even if he bowls a straight ball, it is going to be a kind of advantage. That is the kind of aura and that is the kind of threat he has had on the opposition throughout in the last three years. Having other backups, not from the Sunil point of view, but someone who can complement Sunil will always be an advantage. We believe KC Cariappa can develop along with Sunil. Kuldeep would learn a lot from Brad Hogg and Cariappa can learn a lot from Sunil as well. Just watching them in the nets and talking to them will always help them grow as an individual and grow as a player. We have groomed our youngsters pretty well in the last two or three years and we will continue to do that in the future as well for the betterment of Indian cricket” Gambhir explained.
Elaborating on Cariappa’s inclusion in the side Gambhir said, “We never picked him from the point of view that he is going to be a match-winner for us. I can’t say much about him at the moment because I have not seen him bowl in a match. I don’t know how big a game changer he will be, but obviously he is different. We will see over the course of time and the tournament how he shapes up.”
KKR kick-start their campaign at the Eden Gardens against Mumbai Indians and by the looks of it, the men in purple and gold looked pumped up and ready to go. “We have got enough confidence and firepower in our ranks to play good cricket. Come tomorrow, if we play our best, it is going to be very difficult for the opposition to beat us, not only Mumbai Indians, but other opponents as well. We are pretty confident, but we are not over confident. We fear no one,” Gambhir said.