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Thursday 22 June 2017
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Fast, but never furious: Marauding mannequin

Fast, but never furious: Marauding mannequin

Sunil Narine looks like a mannequin under the helmet. There is absolutely no presence in him when he stands out there at the crease. As if a fan of old Telugu movies has drawn a pencil-thin moustache in the memory of the celluloid heroes from a bygone era and pushed him out with a bat in hand. An absolutely impassive face that gives nothing away– who can tell whether he has just been beaten or is the ball thrown back by the crowd? And yet he has come up with the most violent fifty of this IPL.

The lack of presence is worth pondering over. We have seen many a hitter before and nearly all of them exude a sense of energy – it could be bossiness or nervous energy – but it would be palpable. Someone like  Virender Sehwag was nonchalant, with a cool kind of vibe. Narine, though, is something else.

Of course, he isn’t a renowned big hitter and was more known for the ways in which he would try to camouflage his offspin and carrom balls. Even when bowling, he would hardly be seen talking. He isn’t the one to have frequent chats with his captains, or bother about even staring at batsmen. Runs in, twists his fingers and wrist to try and squeeze out the ball in a way the batsmen struggle to read his intent. But the style of his bowling bestowed upon him a mysterious aura. All that quietness fitted in snugly with what he was: a mystery spinner.

The effect of Narine, the batsman, upon us is something else altogether. At best, it seems he would be a Murali Kartik type of batsman, if you get the idea. Dogged and gritty can be understood, but a big-hitting opener? There is no sign of the latent violence in the way he holds the bat. Hands evenly paced out on the bat with neither the top or bottom hand taking over control, a softish grip, and no muscles popping out from his sleeves.

There is no sign of any violence even when the bat swing begins. No veins popping, no jaws tightening, no intensity popping out of his eyes, no hefty swinging – basically nothing that tells us much about what he plans to do.

Poor Samuel Badree, who has probably not been carted around as disdainfully as he was by Narine on Sunday. In one over, Badree tried out everything from a slider, a googly, a flighted legbreak, and even a slowish leggie but everything rammed into the boundary as 25 runs flooded in the fourth over of the chase.

The first three were swung over long-off, and by then Badree, who already had bled runs to Narine in the previous game between the two sides, was done and dusted. Empty of ideas, and perhaps numbed by the assault, he slipped in a long-hop which was put away to the fine-leg boundary.

Still, it’s one thing to hit a spinner. How would he fare against the seamer? S Aravind, the left-armer, found out in the next over that the answer wasn’t to his liking. A full-length delivery was nonchalantly punched through extra cover, a short-of-length stuff was powered to the straight boundary, a full toss was pinged to the midwicket boundary, and Arvind decided the best way to avoid being hit was to bowl it as far away from the bat as possible. Two wides resulted. The next legal delivery was a back-of-length delivery on the stumps which was imperiously tonked over long-on, high into the top tier for his fifty – the quickest in IPL. Whoa.

All through this mayhem, Narine didn’t even blink. Not a word. Not a sign of any adrenalin rush. Poor Lynn, his partner who rushed across to congratulate the man on the fastest fifty, and only met this unfathomable silence. There was a hint of smile on his face but it could be a rebellious action of the face going against the wishes of the man(THE INDIAN EXPRESS,2017).


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