He was benched for three straight games, first for his suspect bowling action and then to allow Kolkata Knight Riders to conduct a few lineup experiments. With things going awry for KKR who now looked to distance themselves from the resurging crowd, the management brought back Sunil Narine and what followed a comeback in style. Batting at No.5 against the high-flying Delhi Capitals at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Narine scored his fourth IPL half-century and his first since 2018.
It was a match-up that had gone wrong for Delhi and subsequent, did the job for the comeback man and the Knight Riders.
Narine had walked in during the eighth over. Kagiso Rabada was taken off the attack after his second over and Shreyas Iyer appeared to introduce a wonky bowling strategy with two spinners Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin alongside medium-pacer Marcus Stoinis. All three were just the kind if deliveries that Nitish Rana and Narine loves to attack and so did they do.
Between overs nine and 16, where Delhi bowled out Tushar Deshpande, had three overs Ashwin, two from Stoinis and one each from Axar and Anrich Nortje, Kolkata amassed 107 runs, impying a scoring rate of over 13. Ashwin and Stoinis were battered the most by the two left-handers, with the spinner conceding 45 runs in three overs while Stoinis went for 27 in two overs.
It was during this middle-over rampage when both Rana and Narine notched up their half-centuries to lay a strong foundation for KKR ahead of the death overs.
Narine eventually departed in the 17th over off a slowish delivery from Rabada. He walked back scoring 64 off 32.
It has been a tough season for Narine. KKR persisted with Narine as their opener, although it yielded negative returns with the all-rounder managing just 27 runs in four innings at an average of 6.8. He was later slotted at No.4 after KKR opted for Rahul Tripathi as their new opener when he scored a good cameo knock of nine-ball 17 before he was dropped from the squad for suspect bowling action. And even while he was cleared ahead of the next fixture, he was rested.