ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2016 ODI bowling winner: Guess who's back

Not Shady, but Sunny (Narine)

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Sunil Narine's variations flummoxed Farhaan Behardien, West Indies v South Africa, ODI tri-series, 1st match, Providence, June 3, 2016

Befuddled: Sunil Narine's turn is too hard for Farhaan Berhardien to read  •  AFP

West Indies were expected to be spectators at their own party, having invited Australia and South Africa, but Narine single-handedly squashed that thought with a sterling performance on his recall to the ODI side. He had been out of action for seven months after being banned for an illegal bowling action, and was showing off the adjustments he had made. Whatever they were, they worked.
On a slow Providence pitch, where scoring was sluggish, Narine found the ideal conditions in which to make a comeback. He struck with the first ball of his second over when Hashim Amla shuffled across his off stump to play for turn and nearly toppled over, deceived by a knuckle ball that struck him in front of middle.
Narine reviewed an appeal against Rilee Rossouw for a ball that was full and turned away from the left-hander, but it had pitched outside leg, so Narine had to wait for his second spell to have the last laugh, this time getting Rossouw to nick to slip. Two balls later, Farhaan Behardien hung back in his crease and missed a flick to depart for a duck, lbw.
Narine was getting sharp turn and South Africa's middle order was unable to deal with it. Chris Morris was also done in by an offbreak that would have gone on to hit middle stump, and Aaron Phangiso was lured into a lofted drive to short extra cover to give Narine his fifth. He was fortunate to pick up another when Imran Tahir was given out lbw: South Africa had run out of reviews; replays showed the ball was going down leg.
West Indies' young captain, Jason Holder, also deserves some of the credit for the faith he showed in his premier spinner. Holder set South Africa challenging fields, which included a slip as late as the 36th over, and close catchers throughout Narine's overs, to strangle a line-up that has had its problems against spin in the past.

Key moment

Although scoring was slow, South Africa were progressing steadily on 160 for 3 in the 36th over when Rossouw, well-set on 61, received a ripping offbreak. The ball turned away from Rossouw, who played at it without moving his feet and sent an outside edge low to slip. South Africa had lost AB de Villiers five overs before, and Narine's crucial strike opened up the middle order. That wicket sparked a spectacular collapse in which South Africa lost 7 for 28, including five to Narine in the space of 23 balls.

The numbers

6 for 27 The best figures by a West Indian bowler against South Africa. It made Narine the ninth West Indian (and the only spinner) to claim a six-for. Only Winston Davis (7 for 51) took more wickets in an innings.
4 Number of batsmen Narine dismissed on the day who did not manage to score a run off him. Of the five other batsmen he bowled to, none were able to score more than nine runs against him.

What they said

"Being on and off with my bowling action and coming back and bowling again, it is good to be back with a bang."
- Sunil Narine
"You have to give him a lot of kudos for his grit and his determination to come out of where he's been and to come back and perform like this."
- Phil Simmons

The closest contenders

Imran Tahir, 7 for 45 v West Indies, Tri-Nation Series, St Kitts
Tahir took the first seven-for by a South African bowler in an ODI, and helped his team secure a bonus point.
Kane Richardson, 5 for 68 v India, fourth ODI, Canberra
India needed 72 off 75 balls when Richardson helped trigger a collapse in which the visitors lost nine wickets for 46 runs.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent