Kolkata: For the second time in less than a year, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had a ‘Knightmare’ at Eden Gardens. If Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had unleashed their sultans of swing last term, this time they did it with spin.
And the bat of Sunil Narine, who top-scored with a 19-ball 50 in game that featured Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Brendon McCullum and Robin Uthappa.
Whether this IPL discovers the spinner in Nitish Rana will be unravel over the next seven weeks but even a compulsive bettor perhaps wouldn’t have wagered on him getting Eden Gardens to be aflutter with KKR’s yellow flags when he on a hattrick.
That didn’t happen but having scalped De Villiers and Kohli off successive deliveries, Rana hit a purple patch when things weren’t really hunky-dory for the hosts.
Rana then scored 34 and with new skipper Dinesh Karthik (35) helped KKR cash in on Narine’s power play on way to a four-wicket win, chasing 177. They say, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Well, with KKR, Rana certainly has.
First impressions with Narine happened long ago but so often does he come under the scanner with his action that he needs to re-present himself nearly every season now. He did that with bat and ball on Sunday.
Every eye in the IPL world would have been on Narine as he poker-faced his way through a first over with the carrom ball as his stock delivery.
That Narine would be economical wasn’t the most important point in that over.
That Kohli faced all but one of them was. Narine then dismissed McCullum, getting him to play early and was the only one at Eden who didn’t react at all. He just ambled towards cover, his expressionless eyes as incongruous in that boyish face as an IPL match being played to empty stands.
Then he freed his shoulders and put on a one-dimensional display that is brutal when it comes off.
Ask RCB. Narine’s 34 against them here last time seemed staid in comparison. But he had ‘Bangalored’ RCB away with 54, off 17. On Sunday, he got to 50 off 17 and provided the platform for KKR to ease their new-look team into this campaign.