When one thinks of Kolkata Knight Riders' dream march to the IPL 5 final, experts and fans will not forget Sunil Narine's contribution.
Many believe that it was this “Mystery Spinner” who has pushed KKR into the final, a first in five years of IPL.
His father named Narine after Indian great batsman Sunil Gavaskar. But he did not follow Gavaskar's footsteps in batting but opted for a different craft. And he is enjoying that immensely.
In a poll conducted by ThatsCricket, 30% of them felt KKR's success is due to Narine. The next best votes fetched were for KKR captain Gautam Gambhir's batting.
Narine is second in the leading bowlers' list with 24 wickets, behind Morne Morkel (25 wickets) of Delhi Daredevils. Narine was the biggest buy for KKR this season in auction. He was picked for $700,000. He has taken his wickets at 11.95 runs per dismissal. His economy rate of 5.20 is the best.
Narine is classified as an offspinner. But he doesn't bowl only offbreaks. He has a bagful of tricks. Even the best of the best batsmen have been exposed in front of this 23-year-old from Trinidad and Tobago.
When KKR and Mumbai Indians met, the great Sachin Tendulkar failed to read him, whether it is from the hand or off the pitch.
Such is Narine's impact on IPL 5 that many experts are showering encomiums on him. However, at the same time, many wonder how long will he call the shots? When will his mystery be cracked? Will go the Sri Lankan, Ajantha Mendis' way?
Former South African bowling great and now Pune Warriors coach, All Donald feels Narine's mystery won't last for long.
“He’s (Narine) remarkably skilled, but how successful he will be one or two years from now, will depend on whether he can continue to reinvent himself or not. There are so many cameras on him right now. All of this footage is likely to be viewed by coaches around the world, who’ll eventually manage to break his code through computers,” Donald told a leading English daily.
“I think he has a few more months left before people start to understand him and start reading him off his hand,” the “White Lightning” added.
Gambhir said Narine had been “great” in IPL 5. “We are here because of our bowling. Sunil has been great and all the other bowlers have supported him,” said Gambhir after reaching final.
“Narine imparts a lot of spin. Both vary their pace, but Narine’s high trajectory and his superb accuracy will keep the batsmen guessing even after IPL,” KKR team-mate Manoj Tiwary felt.
Pune skipper Sourav Ganguly said KKR's good show was mainly due to Narine.
“Sunil Narine is the no 1 reason for their good show this season. He is having a psychological effect on the batsmen. By him bowling a tight spell, puts additional pressure on the batsmen against the other bowlers,” Ganguly said.
Narine had enjoyed a similar success when playing the Champions League for Trinidad and Tobago last year in India. His return of 10 wickets at an average of 10.50 and economy rate of 4.37 caught the eye of IPL franchises.
For the West Indies, he has so far played 8 ODIs and 2 T20 Internationals. The way he is climbing the success ladder, there are many more international caps coming his way.
KKR will want Narine to unleash his mystery on the opposition batsmen in the final too, on May 27, a day after Narine's 24th birthday. A title-win will be the perfect birthday gift for Narine and his team.