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“Gautam Gambhir asked me to open. He wanted me to get the team off to a fast start” – Sunil Narine on his origins as an opener in T20 cricket 

West Indies spinner Sunil Narine is primarily known for his exceptional skill with the ball, but he has managed to carve a niche for himself with his batting exploits as well. The 34-year-old was used as an opening batter in franchise cricket, a move that paid dividends, especially in the powerplay.

After being tried out as an opener for the Melbourne Renegades under Aaron Finch’s captaincy, the mystery spinner was given the same responsibility in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as well. Opening the innings alongside Gautam Gambhir in the 2017 edition, Narine found instant success and even smashed the then fastest joint-fifty in IPL history.

Narine on fire!!! 50 off 15 balls v RCB . 100 for 0 off 6 overs!!!!!

Stating that skipper Gambhir gave him full liberty at the top of the order, Narine said in the most recent edition of the Cricket Monthly:

“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, opposition didn’t take me that seriously, and I went from strength to strength.”

Even after Gambhir’s departure, Narine continued to open the innings with Chris Lynn for the franchise.

The Trinidad-born player exploited the powerplay with his clean bat swing and helped KKR attain a healthy start in several games. However, his aversion to short-pitched deliveries meant that the bowlers began to target the left-handed batter, pushing him down the order once again.

“It’s a trend I’ve set for myself: every team I play for now, I bat in a different role” – Sunil Narine

Narine was primarily deployed down the order in the 2022 edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). He was used in a similar capacity by Surrey in the recently concluded T20 Vitality Blast as well.

Whereas, he played at the No.3 position for the Oval Invincibles in the inaugural edition of the Hundred. Sharing his thoughts on being used as a floater in T20 cricket at times, he said:

“It’s a trend I’ve set for myself: every team I play for now, I bat in a different role. It’s good and bad – I can try different roles as a batter but I don’t have that secure position in the order. One tournament I might be doing well in the middle of the order but then in the next one I may have to open the batting,”

His peak with the bat came in the 2017-18 window, where he amassed 581 runs across two editions for KKR at a strike rate of 180. What do you reckon is Narine’s best position in the batting order? Let us know what you think.




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