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IPL 2024: I knew Narine would be a T20 legend, says Gautam Gambhir

Gambhir further recalled how team owner Shah Rukh Khan backed him during his poor run in 2014 and told him 'you are not going to drop yourself till you're here'.
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 10:45 IST
Last Updated : 20 April 2024, 10:45 IST

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Kolkata: Former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir says Sunil Narine is perhaps the greatest bowler in IPL and he had an inkling that the West Indian will develop into a legend of T20 cricket when he made his ODI debut against India way back in 2011.

The former Kolkata Knight Riders skipper and now team mentor has revealed that he decided to rope Narine for the IPL after seeing the West Indian during his debut series in 2011.

"I must have faced seven or eight deliveries and I thought this is the guy who is going to go out there and become the legend of the game, especially in T20 cricket," Gambhir said in KKR Knights Dugout Podcast.

"See where is Sunil Narine now? Probably the greatest bowler in IPL history," he said.

Narine has taken 170 wickets in his IPL career and has also scored 1322 runs so far, including a century, from 168 matches he has played in the League.

He made his ODI debut against India in the third ODI in Ahmedabad in December 2011 where he returned with figures of 2/34, dismissing Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin.

But it was only during the fourth ODI in Indore that Gambhir faced Narine for the first time. Narine returned wicket-less with 0/46 from his six overs but Gambhir had made up his mind that the Trinidadian would become his go-to bowler in the IPL 2012.

Narine emerged as a mystery bowler for KKR, claiming 24 wickets in 2012, the second-highest behind Morne Morkel's 25, to help KKR clinch their maiden IPL crown in 2012.

In 2014 too when they won their second title, Narine was their second highest wicket-taker finishing with 21 scalps. Gambhir then tapped into Narine's batting potential and promoted him to open for KKR.

This time around, he has been hugely successful with the bat while maintaining his stranglehold with the ball as well.

Back as a mentor of the side after playing a similar role with Lucknow Super Giants in the last two seasons, Gambhir said his mantra for KKR this season is to be 'courageous'

"I'm a strong believer that it's not the most talented team that goes on to win big tournaments. It's the most courageous team that's willing to fight till the last drop of blood, will go on to win the IPL. The mantra for the season is we need to be courageous."

"We should have the courage to be positive all the time. and if you walk that path, I'm very, very bullish about the kind of talent in our dressing room. If we fight, if we are courageous and fight for everyone in the dressing room, fight for every fan who has stuck with us, if we do that I think we will be in a good position," he added.

Gambhir further recalled how team owner Shah Rukh Khan backed him during his poor run in 2014 and told him "you are not going to drop yourself till you're here".

It served him as a motivation to do well and win the title in 2014.

"I couldn't score one run in four games. I've said it a numerous number of times I think he is the best owner I've worked with. It's not because I'm now part of KKR or I was part of KKR."

"I don't think so in seven years of me captaining KKR we have had a cricketing conversation even for seven minutes, except that patch that I was going through."

"That time also we had the conversation because I was on the verge of dropping myself. The only thing he told me was till you're here, you are not going to drop yourself."

"Imagine someone, as an owner who himself has been such a big achiever, not even talking about cricket or asking you a single thing about your decision making."

"I'm not saying I took all the right decisions. But he never questioned my decisions that's the trust he had in me," he signed off.

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Published 20 April 2024, 10:45 IST

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