Beset with injury worries, Kolkata Knight Riders were dealt a fresh blow on Friday as West Indies spinner Sunil Narine was reported for suspect bowling action, a development which could jeopardise his participation in the upcoming Indian Premier League.
Narine was one of KKR’s star performers last season. He was retained by the franchise for Rs 12.50 crore. The match officials’ report from the PSL on Narine’s bowling action will be sent to Cricket West Indies and he will have to go through the process that is followed by the CWI, for suspected illegal bowling actions.
KKR might miss his services as a bowler if he fails to remodel the action in time for the IPL, which kicks off on April 7. The turn of events comes at a time when KKR are grappling with a burgeoning injury list, that includes most of their foreign imports.
All-rounder Andre Russell, who was retained for Rs 8.50 crore suffered a hamstring injury during the ongoing PSL. Not only has the West Indian been ruled out from the rest of the tournament, he is now facing a race against time to achieve full fitness in time for the start of the IPL.
KKR’s other overseas star Chris Lynn is also on the mend. The big-hitting Australian is recuperating from a shoulder injury picked up during the Big Bash League earlier this year. Lynn missed part of the Australian T20 tournament and was also ruled out of the PSL. While he did not go under the knife, his participation for the entire IPL season is still uncertain.
To compound KKR’s woes, Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson recently met with a freak head injury while working out in the gym. The 36-year-old needed 16 stitches after smashed his head into a chin-up rod. His compatriot Mitchell Starc is expected to be fully fit for IPL. However, he comes into the tournament on back of an injury-plagued past year that saw him miss the league and part of the high-profile Ashes series.
If Narine fails in his quest to rework his action, KKR will have a big headache to deal with. KKR might still use him as a pure batsman. The Trinidadian was one the side’s standout performers with the bat last time around. He made quite a splash as an opener last year. In the worst case, Narine’s utility as a bowler, though, will be missed.
Narine was first reported for an illegal action during the 2014 Champions League in India.
As a precaution he was withdrawn from the West Indies squad for the 2015 World Cup and only returned after re-modelling his action. He was later reported again during a match in Sri Lanka in November 2016 and subsequently suspended after biomechanical tests.
KKR came faced a lot of flak for their auction policy that saw them end up with a squad bereft of many big names. Their choice of captain in Dinesh Karthik was also not met with great enthusiasm, with some questioning the team management’s logic of letting long-time skipper Gautam Gambhir go. Other than Karthik, Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav is the only current India national team member in the side.
The franchise went big with youngsters in the auction. They snapped up three key members of India’s victorious U-19 World Cup team - Shubman Gill, Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi.
They chose to use one of their right to match cards for Yadav. They used the other two to retain the services of former India cricketers Piyush Chawla and Robin Uthappa.
With a new look to the side, a period of transition was always on the cards. Expectations, though, were high from overseas stars Lynn, Russell and Narine. The recent setbacks, though, are likely to make an impact. It will, however, be interesting to see how the team responds. While, a return for each of the players in question is always a possibility, their ability to hit the ground running will be on top of the mind of most fans.