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Sunil Narine can bamboozle any batsman with his mystery balls. He was the destructor-in-chief when Trinidad & Tobago humbled the mighty Chennai Super Kings on their own turf in CLT20 2011. That performance played a big role in the off-spinner getting a chance in IPL 2012. He was back on the same ground, this time, as a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders.
After the Knight Riders registered their first ever IPL win in Chennai, Narine spoke to iplt20.com about his now-famous knuckle ball and other variations in his armoury.
When you were here for the CLT20 2011, you got the better of CSK; was that playing at the back of your mind today?
No it wasn’t really playing at the back of my mind. It’s a game of uncertainties, so whoever plays better cricket wins it. You underwent some changes with your action. What were they and how did it help you become the bowler you are today?
It wasn’t any major changes. I was just concentrating on my cricket and what I am capable of. Everyone supported me back home and made me believe that I can do anything.
What was the turning point of your career according to you?
It was the CLT20 2011. Playing in front of huge crowds and being able to perform at my best was an achievement.
How many variations do you have?
Three – the knuckle ball, off-break and the faster one. How did you develop the knuckle ball?
I have played a lot of soft ball cricket back home and tried it with the hard ball, and it came out pretty well. Hopefully, I continue doing this and come up with new balls.
Do you practice it often?
I practice it in every practice session. When do you use it the most?
I can’t say when I use it the most. It depends on the situation of the game and how I am going about my bowling. Which batsman picks you the best?
Due to modern technology, batsmen find a way to decode mystery bowlers very soon. As a bowler, you need to keep evolving. Are there any other variations you are working on?
Nothing at this moment. I am just concentrating on what I am capable of doing. In time I definitely will come up with something new.
You have three young spinners in the KKR side. Do you brain storm a lot among yourselves?
We talk about the game and how to go about ourselves. Hard work and dedication is the key to achieve anything. What’s the best thing about the IPL for you till now?
Playing in front of a huge crowd and performing at my best. What else could have I asked for?
He flew from the West Indies after a Test series victory and landed in India in the morning. In the evening, he was out there opening the batting for the Chennai Super Kings in the sapping heat of Chennai. He got a start before being run-out. After the game, he spent around 30 minutes in an ice bath. He was asked to do a post-match interview with iplt20.com, and he obliged with a smile. That’s Michael Hussey for you – dedicated, humble and absolutely honest with his commitments on and off the field.
No wonder then, at the toss of the match between CSK and the Kolkata Knight Riders, MS Dhoni said, “Hussey's presence improves the attitude [within the team]”.
In his chat with the official IPL website, Hussey admitted not being at his best with the bat and vouched to work hard in the coming days and help CSK make it to the playoffs. You are not used to joining a losing side. How was it getting into the squad?
I was just excited to get here and see the team again. I had not seen the boys for a long time, so it was good to see them and say hello. I am little disappointed as we couldn’t win tonight, but we will keep working hard, and hopefully, win the coming matches.
MS Dhoni said that your presence will bring in a positive attitude in the team. In what way do you do that?
I am not sure. I just want to try and keep it relaxed in the dressing room. I try to have a lot of fun and try to bring the personalities of the players out there. I just want to try and impress on the young players to work hard and play for the team.
Was it tough coming straight from the Test series in the Caribbean and playing here the same day?
It was very tough. I probably was not at my best today. I was quite tired and a bit jet lagged. It was great to be back out there with the boys. For the next few days, I will practice hard and get accustomed to the conditions quickly, and hopefully, play a bit more consistently in the next few games. You said you were not at your best today but still no bowler could get you out.
I ran myself out. It was a silly call and it was a crucial time in the game. We had built a crucial partnership and it was important for a couple of top-order guys to bat through the majority of the overs. It was a disappointing time to get out for the team.
Were you following CSK’s performance from the West Indies?
I have been following CSK closely from there. They are showing all the games on the TV and I have been keeping in touch with the boys through text messages. I have been keeping a close eye. Now since I am here, hopefully I can make some difference on the field.
Despite having such a strong batting line-up, what do you think is going wrong with the team in the batting department?
It’s a bit hard to make a judgment when you have just arrived. It’s very difficult to make an accurate assumption or assessment of what’s going on. I haven’t been here, so I haven’t seen the conditions and [heard] the talks in the dressing room. I will get a better idea in the next few days when we start practicing together and get a feel of the conditions. It’s a T20 game, so you need a little bit of luck. And if you look at [Gautam] Gambhir, he has been playing well, but he was lucky to escape a couple of run-outs and a couple of shots, which just escaped the fielders. You need that luck to get your confidence back.
Knowing that there are some fine stroke-makers down the order, do CSK batsmen, at times, tend to leave things for them?
I don’t think so. All the players in our team want to take the responsibilities and take the team into a good position. This is one thing we have talked about in the past in the dressing room. I don’t think that’s been happening.