Within 24 hours of his Trinidad and Tobago compatriots Lendl Simmons and Kieron Pollard producing headline-deserving performances for their Mumbai Indians team in the Indian Premier League T20 tournament, the highly-regarded spinner Sunil Narine turned in his best bowling performance in the tournament as he took four wickets for 20 runs from an allotted four overs to spark his Kolkata Knight Riders team to an important victory.
Narine, currently rated behind compatriot Samuel Badree as number two bowler in world T20 cricket, previously had a 3-for-24 tournament return as his best – this when Kolkata played Kings XI Punjab in the tournament’s opening match on April 26 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
Because of general elections in India, the UAE was venue for the first 20 matches in the 60-match tournament which enjoyed its 49th and 50th yesterday.
Narine who celebrates his 26th birthday on Monday went wicketless in his Kolkata team’s second and third matches but he plucked at least one wicket in the next six matches before his four-man take yesterday.
After Narine’s West Indies teammate, Jamaican Chris Gayle was first out lbw to pacer Umeshkumar Yadav for six with Royal Challengers Bangalore’s score on 7 in two overs, Narine was the man taking all the other four wickets as Bangalore, chasing 196 to win, finished their 20-over innings at 165 for 5 to lose by 30 runs at the famous Eden Gardens.
Bangalore’s wicketkeeper Yogesh Takawale who top scored with 45 and captain Virat Kohli (38) added 85 for the second wicket in a threat to rescue the innings.
However, Narine who delighted at his countryman Simmons tournament-maiden unbeaten 100 and Pollard’s match-winning six-hit for Mumbai the day before, removed both Bangalorean batsmen in the 13th over.
He had Kohli taken at point off the third delivery as the batsman cut one that bounced slightly. Then he removed Takawale three balls later, bowled, as he played on a delivery that turned sharply.
Yuvraj Singh took all his 22 runs from Yadav’s third over – the 16th of the innings – before Narine also took care of that threat, having him caught at long on off the second ball of the next over.
And in the final delivery of the over, Narine got the dangerous South African batsman AB de Villiers who missed a sweep shot and was bowled off-stump for 13.
Narine’s double blow put the seal on the game for Kolkata who moved into third on the eight-team table and safe enough for the final four play-off to determine the champions on June 1.
Gayle’s Bangalore are one from bottom on ten points and have been eliminated from playoff contention.