Home » Match 1 – Trinbago Knight Riders v Guyana Amazon Warriors

Match 1 – Trinbago Knight Riders v Guyana Amazon Warriors

Patrick Noone analyses Sunil Narine’s match-winning contribution to TKR’s win in Tarouba

Before today, Sunil Narine had not played a competitive cricket match of any kind since October 10th. More than 10 months out of the game, first because of a finger injury that required an operation and latterly by the outbreak of COVID-19, yet Trinbago Knight Riders’ star all-rounder looked like he had never been away as figures of 2-19 and a 28-ball half-century propelled his team to an opening day win in the 2020 CPL.

With expectations that the long hiatus would leave a few players rusty from lack of match practice, Narine hit the ground running with both bat and ball, pulling off a virtuoso performance as TKR dealt an early blow to their likely title rivals.

Narine has always been at the forefront of innovation in the game’s shortest form. His carrom balls and doosras have long since been a part of his armoury with the ball, while his explosiveness with the bat in his latter-day role as a pinch hitter has caused carnage across the world in a number of T20 leagues.

Today, we were treated to a subtle new innovation from Narine as he adjusted his load-up, hiding the ball as he entered his delivery stride to give the batsman as little opportunity as possible to discern which of his variations he was going to bowl. It was a small adjustment, but it was enough for him to finish with an economy rate below six runs per over for the seventh time in his last eight CPL matches, a run that stretches back to the start of last year’s campaign.

It was not through lack of trying on the part of the Amazon Warriors. They attacked 17 of the 24 balls Narine bowled in his spell, a percentage of 71% that made him the second most attacked bowler of the match, behind team-mate Fawad Ahmed. But only once were Guyana able to score a boundary against the wily Trinidadian when Nicholas Pooran reverse swept the first ball he faced to the fence.

With the bat, Narine was initially starved of the strike, facing just three balls in the first three overs as Lendl Simmons struggled to get going at the other end. It seemed a strange use of a pinch-hitter to not even allow him to face the first ball but, after Simmons, departed, Narine was able to make up for lost time.

By his own standards, this was a fairly circumspect innings from Narine. Since the start of 2017, he attacks 75% of the time in his first 10 deliveries. Today, that figure was down at 66% but he was able to address that relative sluggishness by attacking each of the last 11 balls he faced, including a match-winning four ball streak that saw him hit Imran Tahir and Romario Shepherd for a four and three sixes in the ninth and tenth overs.

Narine’s two key areas were over mid-off and mid-wicket. When a batsman is capable of scoring heavily in those two regions, it is hard to know where to bowl. Anything short was being pulled, anything full was being driven and the Amazon Warriors looked short of ideas until he finally holed out one ball after reaching 50.

It’s unwise to draw any wholehearted conclusions from the first game of a 33-match tournament. Guyana showed glimpses of their 2019 form and their spin attack means they will likely grow into the competition with so many matches on the same ground. But this was an early statement of intent from TKR in a match between two of the strongest looking squads on paper. There will likely not be much between these two sides come the end of the competition, but it was Sunil Narine who proved the difference today.

Patrick Noone is a CricViz analyst


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