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Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav gave Kolkata Knight Riders perfect boost

Sunil Narine has won more trophies for his batting rather than bowling while Umesh Yadav is keen to keep his Test match mode on in the search of wickets.

ipl 2017 Updated: Apr 15, 2017 10:48 IST
Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir
Hindustan Times
IPL 2017,Gautam Gambhir,Sunil Narine
Gautam Gambhir smashed an aggressive fifty and shared a 76-run opening stand with Sunil Narine to help Kolkata Knight Riders to a big win over Kings XI Punjab in the 2017 Indian Premier League.(BCCI)

My West Indies friend Sunil Narine has a house in Trinidad that is painted pink. I haven’t been to his den but some other KKR members have. They inform me that Sunil has a seven to eight feet high trophy cabinet in his living room. Just like all of you, I too thought there would be plenty of silverware he’d have bagged for his bowling exploits. But sorry sir, we’re all off the mark. (IPL 2017 full coverage)

It came as a revelation that the cabinet has more trophies for his batting acts than bowling. I couldn’t believe that. To verify it, I checked with Sunil himself.

Normally a restrained individual, he sprang to life, adjusted his T-shirt collar, cleared his throat and his eyes widened before he confirmed: “Yeah skipper, there are more trophies for batting than bowling in the cabinet back home.”

Sunil Narine blazed away to 37 off 18 balls against Kings XI Punjab while opening the batting with Gautam Gambhir. ( BCCI )

Narine’s batting feats

On Thursday evening at Eden Gardens he won another Man-of-the-Match award against Kings XI Punjab for an all-round show. But trust me he will tell you it was more for his batting than bowling. Well done Sunny, for scoring an 18-ball 37 besides bowling four overs for 19 runs and taking a wicket.

Credit should also go to the entire support staff that was convinced about this call. After the injury to Chris Lynn, we wanted to try someone who could go hard at the opposition up front. Sunil seemed the best option as he has done this in the Big Bash league as well.

I am also proud of my teammate Robin Uthappa, who was a perfect team man. He is a regular opener in the team but he gladly gave way, first to Lynn and now to Sunil. I can tell you from experience that there are few batsmen who would let go of their batting position. Well done, Robin!

Umesh’s clarity

I am also proud of Umesh Yadav. He bowled a game-changing over, and importantly took out the dangerous Maxwell and Miller. We met at breakfast on Thursday morning. I asked him to come out of the Test match mode and think T20. His reply was extremely intelligent and insightful. Umesh said with conviction, it is better to be in Test match mode as you are then aiming to pick wickets. But if you are in T20 mode, then as a bowler you are only thinking to defend. He was spot on.

Umesh Yadav continued to enjoy his good form with the ball as he picked up four wickets against Kings XI Punjab in the 2017 Indian Premier League. ( AFP )

This is what experience of playing at the highest level can do. This is what confidence can do. After that, I decided not to discuss cricket and instead manoeuvred our chat to life in Nagpur versus life in Delhi.

Narine’s extra bats

Apart from some shoddy fielding, it was a perfect match. We surely need some good fielding and catching practice. I shudder to think what would have happened if we had dropped catches while defending a target. On a personal note, I had a reasonable hit in the middle and was glad I could finish the game off.

The team is upbeat. Our day was divided into training, batting, gym, et al. In the past years, Sunil had only one bat in his kit. I am happy to share that this year I have spotted three shining willows with Sunil’s favourite pink grips. Is he trying to give me a message?

- Gautam Gambhir is the captain of the Kolkata Knight Riders team and writes for the Hindustan Times

First Published: Apr 15, 2017 10:43 IST