“Opposition didn't take me seriously”, Sunil Narine recalls how Gambhir showed his trust on him as opener for KKR

Gambhir had promoted Narine to open the innings in IPL 2017 while leading KKR.

Sunil Narine | BCCI/IPLApart from being a world-class opener, former India cricketer Gautam Gambhir was also a shrewd leader and a top-notch tactician.

While Gambhir didn’t get many opportunities to showcase his captaincy skills in international cricket, he certainly proved his mettle while leading Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL.

The southpaw had joined KKR in 2011 and captained them for seven years. Under him, the franchise won two IPL titles in 2012 and 2014.

One of Gambhir’s many masterstrokes while captaining KKR was promoting off-spinner Sunil Narine to open the innings in 2017. It turned out to be a great decision as Narine went after the bowlers in the powerplay and amassed 224 runs from 16 games, including a 15-ball half-century against RCB in the IPL 2017 season.

Reflecting on the decision, Narine recalled how Gambhir trusted him to do the job at the top while giving him the freedom to express himself.

"Gautam Gambhir asked me to open. He wanted me to get the team off to a fast start, it didn't matter if I lost my wicket early. Nobody could plan too much for me as I was still new to the role, opposition didn't take me that seriously, and I went from strength to strength. The more I performed well, the more confidence KKR had in me and gave me that encouragement," Narine told ESPNCricinfo.

"In the early days of IPL and in the West Indies, it was known that I could bat a bit, but with the passing of my dad - he had always wanted me to show the world I could bat, so I gave myself 18 months to work on my batting, practicing more," he added.

It is worth noting here that Sunil Narine first opened the batting during the Big Bash League (BBL) 2016-17 while playing for the Melbourne Renegades.

"Aaron Finch was captain at Melbourne Renegades. We were playing Melbourne Stars, and we knew they would use Michael Beer as a left-arm orthodox spinner in the powerplay. My goal was to target him. I had been batting well in the nets and I was asked to open. It so happened in the end all the boundaries I hit in that game came off fast bowling (laughs) and not off the spinners, so I didn't really do the job expected of me, but that's where it all started as an opener," he stated.


By Salman Anjum - 01 Aug, 2022

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