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In today’s world of cutting edge technology mysteries don’t prevail for long. In cricket mystery spinners emerge from obscurity and bamboozle the world for a season or a little more before the opposition unravel them.
It is, hence fascinating to note the continued success of one Sunil Narine. After mesmerising everyone with his unorthodox variations of spin bowling, in the 2011 Champions League Twenty20, the off-spinner from Trinidad & Tobago landed a contract with the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Sure enough, he ran through batting line-ups, bagged 24 wickets and helped KKR to the title in IPL 2012. Quite amazingly, this season too, the West Indies tweaker is one of the front-runners for the coveted Purple Cap.
We, at iplt20.com, caught up with Narine after KKR suffered a 14-run loss to the Chennai Super Kingsmainly due to Michael Hussey’s classy 95. We asked him the difference between bowling to Hussey and Chris Gayle. We sought his take on what makes him different and difficult for batsmen to figure out. Here’s what we got:
This year you have had to fight harder for the Purple Cap as compared to last season? Your reasoning?
Yes. The bowlers are doing very well this time. But I still think that T20 cricket is a batting paradise and bowlers will have to keep working hard to be on the top of the game.
What was the team’s bowling plans against Michael Hussey and where do you think it went wrong?
On his day any batsman is capable of doing great damage, especially a batsman like Mike Hussey. Sunday was his day and he took full advantage of it. He played a magnificent role in getting CSK to that total. On days like this one you can try hitting the perfect length, bowl a perfect yorker and you’ll still be hit for a four.
Generally, thanks to modern technology it doesn’t take long for batsmen to figure out mystery spinners. But you’re an exception. What’s your secret?
There’s no secret as such. I’d probably say it’s about working hard at your game and being focused no matter what situation you’re in. Even if they are able to pick you, you have to convince them that they aren’t. You have got to continue to have faith in your ability.
What according to you is the reason why batsmen are still finding it hard to pick you?
Many people will come up with many reasons. The fact is that anything new in cricket takes a while for people to get familiar to. But with the technology available these days the solution to my bowling will be out very soon. But I think you can still continue to do what you’re doing even if they’ve all seen it, if you have the right mindset and determination to succeed with that.
Would you say because your regular off-spinner and doosra being released similarly from your hand, it is tough for the batsmen to gauge which way the ball will spin?
No, I don’t think that’s the reason. When a left-hander faces an off-spinner, he knows the ball will spin away from him and he still gets caught in the slip. So, it doesn’t matter whether or not they know what’s coming their way. Even if they do, if you maintain discipline and bowl in the right areas you will succeed.
As a bowler who’s more difficult to bowl to – A Mike Hussey, who scores briskly without taking risks or a Chris Gayle who uses brute force to hit big?
Both are equally dangerous in their own rights. When Gayle gets going it’s very hard to keep him quiet. But Michael Hussey always has something up his sleeve. He can hit boundaries and can also sneak in singles. There are not many bowlers who can bowl dot balls at him. Gayle will hit sixes and Hussey will find gaps.
You must have bowled a lot to Gayle in the nets and at the domestic competitions in the Caribbean. How does one bowl to him? Help out the other bowlers!
I don’t think there is any particular area to bowl to him. Once he picks his bowler, he goes after him. You just hope that he doesn’t pick you. I don’t think he has any particular weakness. If he doesn’t click, he doesn’t. I think bowling to Chris Gayle is just about having a positive mindset. You back yourself just like he backs himself.
Every spinner has a particular pace at which he can extract the maximum out of the wicket. What is that speed for you?
There’s no set speed. It all depends on the wicket whether you bowl fast or slow. It’s all about judging the pace of the wicket as best as you can and decide on your pace accordingly. Even with variations it depends a lot on the batsman you’re bowling at. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one going away and one coming in. It’s about making a decision at that moment after taking into account the situation, condition and the opposition.