Sunil Narine likely for CLT20 semi-final
Kolkata Knight Riders have accepted the decision taken by the match officials against Sunil Narine, their premier offspinner, whose quicker ball was reported as suspect by the on-field umpires during the match against Dolphins in Hyderabad and are likely to field him in their XI for the semi-final against Hobart Hurricanes on October 2.
Narine has been put on the warning list, but is allowed to play on in the tournament. However, any subsequent offence will disqualify him from bowling in any BCCI-conducted tournament. Narine had finished with figures of 3 for 33 on the day to script a 36-run victory for Knight Riders and is the highest wicket-taker in the tournament. His consistency has been key to Knight Riders qualifying for the semi-finals with a clean slate in the group stage.
ESPNcricinfo understands that on-field umpires Anil Chaudhary and Chettihody Shamshuddin specifically picked the fourth and fifth deliveries of the 15th over and the fourth ball of the penultimate over of Dolphins' innings as suspect. All were quicker deliveries.
On Monday, Narine's first over had gone for 12 runs including three fours and he was held in reserve for the later overs. Dolphins were recovering from a poor start with the middle-order pair of Khaya Zondo and Andile Phehlukwayo adding 44 runs when Narine returned. The equation read 77 runs to win from the last six overs.
Phehlukwayo, the 18-year-old left-hander from KwaZulu Natal, punished Narine for bowling short with consecutive boundaries off his second and third deliveries, including a reverse pull. Narine hit back, bowling a straighter delivery that pegged back Phehlukwayo's off stump and sent the bails flying. The delivery speed was 98 kph. Narine bowled a carrom ball next, clocked at 99 kph, and deceived new batsman Robbie Frylinck and the edge flew towards third man.
Narine was on a hat-trick after he grabbed two wickets off the last two deliveries of his third over. Then, two balls before ending his spell, Narine pitched a length delivery that missed Kyle Abbott's stumps by a few inches. That ball was measured at 100 kph.
Narine was told about the complaint after the game by match referee Andy Pycroft in the presence of the on-field umpires. It is understood that Pycroft told Narine specifically of the three deliveries being under the scanner and nothing else. Pycroft also spoke with Knight Riders coach Trevor Bayliss later. Incidentally Kumar Dharmasena, the ICC Elite Panel umpire, was the TV official for last night's match and has now been involved in official complaints for all the four bowlers reported for suspect actions so far in the tournament.
Considering the sensitive nature of the issue, officials from various teams have remained tight-lipped on the incident. But one official from a team whose bowler was reported admitted that the exercise seemed to be part of the "same thread" of enforcement by the ICC on suspect actions. He said that the clause on illegal bowling actions had been part of the IPL and CLT20 for a while, but it was only recently that "the decision that we are going to enforce the clause" was taken. "It is not that they are after us specifically," the official said.
This is the second time Narine's action has come under the scanner. In 2011, after Trinidad & Tobago won the Caribbean T20 championship, Narine was one of the nine players match officials had listed to have had a suspect action. Narine underwent rigorous tests before he announced himself to the world in the 2011 edition of the Champions League Twenty20. After Knight Riders bought him for US$ 700,000 in the IPL auction in 2012, Narine played a big hand in the franchise winning its maiden crown.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo