Narine continues to torment RCB

Pinch-hitter has troubled Kohli's team in the last three matches

Narine continues to torment RCB

Sunil Narine, the wily and calm off-spinner, is a threat to any team with his bowling alone. For Royal Challengers Bangalore, in particular, the Trinidadian has become a tough puzzle to crack. It's not the 'mystery' element in his bowling that's causing them a headache. It's Narine's batting that has hurt RCB badly.

When Narine slammed a 17-ball 34 against Virat Kohli's men at the Eden Gardens last season, he was the highest scorer for his side which posted a modest 131. The knock got buried in RCB's baffling show that saw them get bundled out for 49. It was too early to judge Narine but the special innings arrived at the Chinnaswamy stadium.

KKR broke no sweat in chasing 159 thanks to Narine's maiden T20 fifty. The fact that the half-century came in just 15 balls, the joint fastest till KL Rahul's 14-ball-50 on Sunday against Delhi, reflected the brutality of the innings. On Sunday here at the Eden Gardens, RCB's inaugural game of the 11th  Indian Premier League turned out to be a forgettable day by another Narine blitz. He struck a quickfire knock, a 17-ball half-century, and the Royal Challengers were left bruised again.

One striking feature of Narine's belligerence is his dominance against spin. In Bengaluru, he blasted his West Indies team-mate and leggie Samuel Badree for 25 runs. He was severe against left-arm seamer S Arvind, another operator with no threatening speed. Narine's simplicity also helps him in the Power Play. Most of his big hits come with a straight bat, showing he has clear ideas about his new role.

On Sunday, RCB had two spinners bowling in the Power Play and Narine targeted Washington Sundar to get 19 runs that included one four and two sixes. An over before that, he made room to the short-pitched off cutters from Chris Woakes and dispatched them to the stands. It was clean hitting with plenty of power. RCB finally beat Narine through pace as he was bowled by Umesh Yadav off a wide full toss which he played on.

"It happened last year also and I feel Narine's innings was the turning point. If you get such a good start in the first six overs, then 50 percent of the game is won. It was such an excellent start that the following batsmen didn't have to take risks," said RCB's Mandeep Singh in the post-match press conference.

Mandeep felt RCB didn't utilise the pace off the surface. "The wicket had good pace and we should have used that aspect to our advantage. We bowled short and he has a way to deal with them. After the match we spoke of how bowling full can trouble him," he explained.        

Rana shines

Nitish Rana was the surprise element in KKR's bowling as he bagged the wickets of AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli in successive deliveries. "I had nothing to lose and I backed myself. I saw how Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine bowled and realised it would be effective if I bowl in the good areas. I am glad it worked for me tonight," he said.

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