Sunil Narine's 'most vocal critic' Kevin Pietersen accepts mistake on live TV, ‘KP was wrong,’ says Matthew Hayden | Crickit

Sunil Narine's 'most vocal critic' Kevin Pietersen accepts mistake on live TV, ‘KP was wrong,’ says Matthew Hayden

May 28, 2024 09:10 AM IST

Kevin Pietersen had no qualms in admitting that he was wrong about Sunil Narine. The KKR legend returned as IPL's MVP for the third time.

Under normal circumstances, Sunil Narine would walk into any T20 side of the world just on the back of his bowling. Despite the game fast evolving into a battle of boundaries, Narine is one of those cricketers who has held his own with the ball. It is not the easiest of tasks to get the better of Narine, even on a placid pitch. He has been an asset to Kolkata Knight Riders for 13 seasons now. But what he did in IPL 2024, took even the game's pundits by surprise.

Kevin Pietersen and Matthew Hayden
Kevin Pietersen and Matthew Hayden

Narine, who has shown the splashes of brilliance as a batter in the IPL, set the stage on fire with his consistency at the top of the order. He got his third MVP (Most Valuable Player) award for scoring 488 runs and picking up 17 wickets in the 17th edition of the tournament. His breathtaking all-round show - rarely seen in the tournament's history - was one of the main reasons KKR won the IPL after a decade.

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So surprising was Narine's display with the bat for KKR that former England captain Kevin Pietersen was forced to take back his words. At the start of the tournament, Pietersen was vocal about KKR's decision to open with Narine, who had only 154 runs to show for in the last three seasons.

KKR's new mentor, Gautam Gambhir, insisted on getting Narine back as an opener for IPL 2024. The Trinidad cricketer had some success in IPL 2017 and IPL 2018, scoring 224 and 357 runs, respectively, but his form nosedived in the next few seasons after teams targeted him with short-pitched bowling.

Kevin Pietersen accepts he was wrong about Sunil Narine

Narine, however, showed immaculate improvement this year. He was quick to latch on to anything short, pulling the balls to the boundary. He scored at a strike rate of 180.84. After the tournament ended with KKR beating SRH in the final to lift their third title, Pietersen acknowledged that Narine had proved him wrong.

“It is amazing, it really is amazing what he did, because I was one of the most vocal critics at the start of the tournament, saying I didn't like Sunil Narine at the top of the order due to his inconsistency. He typically would hit a six and then get out, disrupting the momentum," Pietersen said on Star Sports show Cricket Live.

The former England cricketer said Narine was a vastly improved batter in this edition of the tournament. "However, this season, especially over the last couple of months, he has been consistent. He’s thought like a batter, batted like a batter, and got the runs of a batter. He has averaged more than many batters and his strike rate has been phenomenal. He’s played both sides of the wicket exceptionally well. And, of course, we don't need to say much about his bowling—he is an out-and-out superstar. His ability to change his action and still produce such impressive numbers is quite something. He is the heart and soul of this outfit, isn't he?”

Former Australia opener Matthew Hayden said there was no shame in accepting that Narine proved Pietersen wrong. “All I heard from Kevin Pietersen in summary was that I was wrong about Sunil Narine. I mean, that's what we're designed to do as former players. We have to call it as we see it. It's as simple as that, but what you'll see about Kevin and all of us, is that when we're wrong, we love to see players prove themselves right. Absolutely. And that's exactly what Sunil Narine’s done this IPL. He's been amazing. As KP said, he has played as a genuine batter. He's thought like a batter, and even in the short time tonight, when you think about it, he got chased a bit early by Pat Cummins and put him out of the stand. But even one six tonight shows that intent, that he's still there and he's still the best player," he said in the same show.

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