A lot has been made of Kolkata Knight Riders’ batting partnerships between Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. Meanwhile, another partnership has been quietly blossoming for Kolkata between spinners Sunil Narine and Shakib Al Hasan.
While the two haven’t taken too many wickets in the tournament so far, they have done the next best thing expected of a bowler in the T20 format -- keeping the scoring off their bowling to a minimum.
In a format where keeping the run rate in check can sometimes be more crucial than claiming wickets, Kolkata’s spin imports have flourished.
Against Rising Pune Supergiants on Sunday, Shakib bowled three overs, giving away just 14 runs. He also picked the crucial wicket of Faf du Plessis, who has been Pune’s in-form man this season, with a ball that can only be described as unplayable.
West Indian Narine, on the other hand, was a tad expensive, conceding 32 runs in his four overs. But he ended the night with the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane, who was Pune’s top scorer with 67.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir reposed faith in the duo by handing the Bangladesh left-arm spinner the ball in the fourth over while Narine came on in the next over.
Shakib and Narine have only played two matches in this season’s IPL before this -- against the Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab. In the former, the duo’s seven overs only leaked 44 runs while against Punjab the eight overs went for 50 runs. Narine also claimed two wickets against Punjab, that of Wriddhiman Saha and Glenn Maxwell.