Narine and the art of pinch-hitting
Sunil Narine's capricious journey as a T20 batsman has reached a peak he might never hit again. The fastest fifty in IPL history, a 15-ball effort at the ground Chris Gayle has called home for a while now.
Narine's new avatar has plugged an Andre-Russell shaped gap for Kolkata Knight Riders and on Sunday he was given an additional responsibility. He was to ease Chris Lynn's comeback from shoulder injury. And so he did.
The first ten deliveries Narine faced were off Samuel Badree, whom he had bested the last time they faced off. This time, Badree seemed to have gained the upper hand, and even induced a wild slog that barely evaded short third man. The next six balls went for 25 runs.
KKR were off to a flier, Lynn felt absolutely no pressure and Narine wasn't done yet. He clattered a further 24 runs against S Aravind, who, after being hit for three sixes over long-off, insisted on bowling length outside the off stump. The only change up was a full toss on middle which Narine dispatched to the midwicket boundary. By the end of that over it was evident that RCB didn't even want to try anymore.
It was only fair that Narine got to hack one-third of the 159 target. He had after all toppled AB de Villiers inside the Powerplay, and ended the 71-run fourth-wicket stand between Mandeep Singh and Travis Head that had kept the home side in the game.
The wow moment
Halfway into the fifth over, Aravind was visibly panicking. He bowled two wides after conceding 14 off four balls. Unable to nail whatever the counter was to Narine's straight hitting, he bowled the fifth at off stump on a length and this time Narine decided not to go over mid-off. He got slightly inside the line, stood tall, and thumped it on the up over long-on to bring up his fifty.
Stats that matter
- Narine scored 28 runs through the long-off region, including three sixes
- Today was the first time Narine took two wickets in a game this IPL - his previous best was 1 for 18
What they said
"I haven't seen such a partnership. Unbelievable effort. You don't expect people to get 105 in 6 overs."
"If West Indies are looking for a new opener in the shorter format @SunilPNarine74 it is!"
Yuvraj Singh, on Twitter
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo