West Indies’ globetrotting veteran off-spinner Sunil Narine has showered praise on former Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir for promoting him as an opening batter for the franchise in the 2017 IPL season.
Sunil Narine had a breakthrough season for the Kolkata-based franchise in his debut season in 2012, scalping 24 wickets in 15 appearances going under six runs per over, and played a pivotal role in securing the team’s maiden triumph in the cash-rich league. But the mystery spinner redefined himself in the 2017 season after being asked to open the batting by Gautam Gambhir, scoring 224 runs at an astonishing strike rate of 172.30.
The following season he enhanced his reputation further by blitzing 357 runs in 16 appearances, troubling the bowlers at a strike rate of 189.89. The southpaw credited Gambhir for showing tremendous faith in him, which led to a boost in his confidence, leading to improved performances with the bat.
“Gautam Gambhir asked me to open. He wanted me to get the team off to a fast start; it didn’t matter if I lost my wicket early. Nobody could plan too much for me as I was still new to the role, the opposition didn’t take me that seriously, and I went from strength to strength. The more I performed well, the more confidence KKR had in me and gave me that encouragement,” Narine was quoted as saying in Cricket Monthly.
Sunil Narine remains one of the most sought-after T20 players in the world
Narine’s power-hitting abilities at the top of the order have been exploited by several franchises. Following his impressive outings as an opener for KKR, he was also sent at the top of the order by the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League (BBL).
The Trinidadian chipped in with decent output with the bat in the recently concluded T20 Blast for Surrey while his bowling remained unflustered. The 34-year-old has scored 3196 runs in 419 T20 matches at a healthy strike rate of 148.23 with 13 half-centuries along with 452 wickets to go with his name.