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Sunil Narine’s pinch-hitting role has unsettled Kolkata Knight Riders’ batting

Sunil Narine’s promotion as an opener has paid off handsomely as he lashed an IPL record-equalling half-century versus Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), but persisting with him there has unsettled Kolkata Knight Riders’ (KKR) batting.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 16, 2017 20:56 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
IPL 2017,Sunil Narine,Kolkata Knight Riders
Sunil Narine has provided Kolkata Knight Riders with some blazing start in IPL 2017, but it has also unsettled the regular batting lineup of KKR ahead of their Eliminator clash against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad.(PTI)

The last time Sunil Narine played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in an Indian Premier League game around 10 days ago, he left in a blaze of glory. Opening the innings for Kolkata Knight Riders, he smashed the daylights out of the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowlers, racing to a 17-ball 54. (IPL 2017 full coverage)

But in the Indian Premier League, fortunes fluctuate fast and the momentum shifts within a couple of overs. Skipper Gautam Gambhir’s move to use Narine as pinch-hitter was necessitated by an injury to his regular opening partner Chris Lynn. However, with Lynn’s return it has become a selection dilemma for one of the most successful captains in the IPL.

Plenty of opening options

Gambhir has four opening options, including himself and the in-form Robin Uthappa. If he continues to bat Narine and Lynn at the top, then Gambhir and Uthappa move down the order and the middle-order batsmen are pushed even deeper down.

Had the results been positive, the adjustment would have looked fine. But, KKR have lost four of their last five games and the batting has been below par. Hence, the think-tank will need to revisit their batting line-up.

Gambhir best as opener

Gambhir has been the highest run-scorer for KKR this season and he should bat at his most favoured position, which is as opener. Uthappa has been in great form but when he comes in late in the innings, he is confused whether to attack from ball one or get himself in. Manish Pandey is another batsman who likes to take a bit of time to get in.

In their last game against Mumbai, KKR had the run-rate under control till the second last over, but were not able to finish off the game. They will also have to consider whether Narine will be more useful in the finisher’s role.

It is a situation which has not gone unnoticed in the opposition camp, as pointed out by Sunrisers Hyderabad coach Tom Moody. “Yes, they got off to a flier here (against RCB) but we hope we don’t bowl as inconsistently as that. We’ve got a few thoughts about the way we will approach the first six overs. KKR have their headaches in a way. The inclusion of Narine up front has thrown their middle order into a bit of confusion. Because you’ve got two players at 3 and 4 who are so used to batting at 1 and 2 and have been successful opening.”

First Published: May 16, 2017 19:16 IST