Allrounder Sunil Narine tops both innings in playoffs test
All-star of the match
Sunil Narine was the only bowler (minimum two overs) who went at less than six per over on Saturday, and then he powered an opening stand of 52 that took Kolkata Knight Riders only 22 balls to make. According to ESPNcricinfo's Smart Stats, that was a Smart Contribution of -10.79 with the ball (i.e. his spell was worth approximately 11 fewer runs) and 15.83 with the bat (his 29 off 10 was as good as 45 off 10). By himself, Narine was worth an additional 27 runs to his team - invaluable in a match where they were looking to seal a playoffs spot.
Narine's two most economical overs came at difficult times in the innings. The first one at the start of the innings to put a stop to the free-flowing opening stand in the fourth over, and the second in the 17th over, when Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan were looking to open up and make sure the good start wasn't wasted. He conceded four on both occasions and managed to get Yusuf in the process. He was taken for only boundary - a six from Dhawan - in his entire four-over spell.
His batting was far more belligerent. Off ten balls, he had seven scoring shots. Six of those were boundaries.
The way he got them was familiar - he looked to go over extra cover against Sandeep Sharma's medium-pace and into the leg side against Shakib Al Hasan's spin. Against both, he barely managed to hit one cleanly. Instead, it was the characteristic marginaly clearance of fielders. But yet again, it worked.
Sunrisers Hyderabad would have wanted Bhuvneshwar Kumar, their fastest bowler, to bowl at Narine. Lynn allowed the bowler to get only one ball at him in the first over. But even that could have been enough.
Bhuvneshwar went around the wicket and fired in a vicious inswinging yorker that would have crashed into middle stump if it got to travel another yard. What stopped it was an outlandish poke from Narine; a very quick, very late jab with the face open that somehow ended up at third man despite the angle Bhuvneshwar had created. He'd turned the most dangerous ball he faced - the first one - on the night into a scoring shot.
- Narine didn't bowl a single ball on the night that could be classified as short-pitched
- Narine bowled to six batsmen but only one of them could score a boundary off of him
- Narine hit exactly one boundary on either side of square on both sides, and one six on both sides of the straight boundary
- Narine's Smart Strike Rate on the night was 448.34
What they said
"There's not much that Sunil and I talk about. I like being at the other end. He takes the momentum away from the opponent. He's a cool character."
Chris Lynn on his opening partner
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo