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Figuring out Sunil Narine

 By all accounts, Sunil Narine is an extraordinary bowler.   There have been mystery spinners in the past – the likes of Chandrasekar and Ajantha Mendis come readily to mind.  But what makes Narine special is that batsmen have not quite figured out how to play him – even with all the expert coaches and video analysis available in today’s game.   We are 30 games into the 2013 IPL and Sunil Narine is at it again – in contention for the purple cap, a hat-trick already, etc etc.

After studying his bowling carefully (I am as big an arm-chair expert as any of you J), I feel there are some ways by which batsmen can play him more effectively.

  •            First, Narine rarely flights the ball.  He bowls flat and fast.  So there is really no point in charging down the track and trying to hit him straight.   Batsmen are much better off playing from the crease.
  •         Because of the appreciable spin that he gets, many times away from the bat – batsmen are very prone to get a leading edge when they try to play the ball in the V.   So a trick seems to be to play him towards mid-wicket and cover –with the spin. 
  •           Batsmen are never sure which way the ball is going to spin and are taking a huge gamble when they have to go after Sunil Narine.  But analysis clearly shows that when the batsmen are trying to go after him, Sunil almost always spins the ball “away” from the batsmen.  He figures that takes away the hoick over mid-wicket  and increases the chances of a stumping.   I think the batsmen would be much better off playing the square cut and the late cut more frequently. 



Look at what Sunil has done now.  Batsmen have been taught to come down the track to the pitch of the ball, play in the V and use the mid-wicket hoick as a release shot.  Sunil has effectively taken away all these options from the batsmen.   And he is forcing batsmen to play him differently than they have played any spinner so far.

It will be interesting to see the tactics that batsmen adopt in playing  Sunil going forward.  But I am also sure Sunil has a lot more mystery left to be unleashed !  Game on………   

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