IPL 2024: How Sunil Narine has transformed into a 'specialist opener'

Narine smashed his maiden T20 hundred, against Rajasthan Royals

sunil-narine-pti Kolkata Knight Riders' Sunil Narine plays a shot during the IPL match against Rajasthan Royals in Kolkata | AP

Sunil Narine opening for Kolkata Knight Riders in this IPL has proved to be a masterstroke and credit for the West Indian's move up the order should go to team mentor Gautam Gambhir, reckons Rinku Singh.

Narine smashed his maiden T20 hundred on Tuesday, a 56-ball 109 against Rajasthan Royals.

His form at the top this season has been nothing short of remarkable considering he aggregated just 154 runs over the past three seasons while batting lower down the order. As an opener this season, he has already collected 276 runs in six games.

After scoring a memorable hundred at the Eden Gardens, Narine gave due credit to former captain Gambhir for making him open for the first time since 2017.

In the post-match interaction, Rinku echoed Narine's words.

"You can see the way Narine is batting this time. In every match, he's making runs, opening the batting and that was his (Gambhir's) idea," Rinku said.

Narine was unleashed as an opener under Gambhir's captaincy in 2017 when he smashed IPL's fastest fifty in 15 balls, a record that was gradually improved by K.L. Rahul (14), Pat Cummins (14) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (13).

Narine also has a 13-ball 50 for Comilla Victorians in the Bangladesh Premier League in their match against Chattogram Challengers in 2022.

Earlier, he would just swivel his bat, but this time Narine is seen batting with skill and poise as his stroke-making in the arc has vastly improved.

Asked about the transformation, Rinku said: "Nothing much has changed. It's the result of his sheer hard work at the nets.

"I've just noticed one change - he's more patient now. Earlier, he used to swing his bat to every ball. Now he has restrained himself and is playing according to the merit of the ball. He is batting thoughtfully and wisely."

But Narine's century went in vain as Jos Buttler (107 not out; 60b) showed his masterclass to single-handedly steer Rajasthan Royals to an eight-wicket win in the final ball of the match.

"It happens sometimes but it won't impact much. Our team is doing very well. We are not thinking much (about the loss). Credit to RR they did well. Also, you need a bit of luck in your favour. It was their day. Buttler innings was the turning point. Full credit goes to him," Rinku said.

With the KKR top-order going strong this time, the finisher Rinku, who was KKR's leading rungetter in IPL 2023 with 474 runs at 59.25, is not getting much opportunities.

This season Rinku has an aggregate of 83 runs at 27.66 and is yet to score a fifty. But his strike-rate has been a handsome 184-plus.

Rinku played as an Impact Sub on Tuesday because of a niggle. "I had a niggle, I will be back to playing the full match against RCB on Sunday," he said.


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