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regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

Sunil Narine the 'missing puzzle', could bring joy to West Indies with retirement reversal one last time: Andre Russell

The 35-year-old Narine, who quit International cricket in 2023 and played his last T20I for West Indies way back in 2019, has taken the IPL by storm both with the bat and ball

PTI Chennai Published 23.05.24, 06:23 PM
Kolkata Knight Riders player Andre Russell with teammate Sunil Narine celebrates the wicket of Lucknow Super Giants batter Nicholas Pooran during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Kolkata Knight Riders, at Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium

Kolkata Knight Riders player Andre Russell with teammate Sunil Narine celebrates the wicket of Lucknow Super Giants batter Nicholas Pooran during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Kolkata Knight Riders, at Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium File

Sunil Narine may have made up his mind not to come out of retirement but his compatriot Andre Russell believes he's the "missing puzzle" in the West Indies line-up and reversing his decision one last time would make the whole nation happy.

The 35-year-old Narine, who quit International cricket in 2023 and played his last T20I for West Indies way back in 2019, has taken the IPL by storm both with the bat and ball.

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"I'm so happy for Sunil to be honest. I think getting close to 500 runs is no joke, being a premier bowler that is going to look to bowl four overs and has 16 wickets under his belt in this season as well, that just goes to show the true all-roundership in him," Russell said on Star Sports Cricket Live.

The lefthander has scored 482 runs, giving Kolkata Knight Riders flying starts in the power-play and also taken 16 wickets with a tidy economy rate of 6.90 to play a key role in their final appearance.

The two-time champions defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first IPL Qualifier to make their fourth final where they await the winners of Qualifier 2 between SRH and Rajasthan Royals slated on Friday.

Narine has earlier made it clear that he has "made peace with that decision" and the "door is now closed" for coming out of the international retirement for the T20 World Cup next month in the Caribbean and the USA.

But Russell made one final plea.

"Yeah, I definitely think so, I was trying to get in his head before the squad announced for like two weeks straight. (Sherfane) Rutherford and I tried to talk to him and say just for this World Cup, then you can retire do whatever you want to do.

"Though he's the missing puzzle, I think he made his decision and I respect his decision as well, as a big man and as a player that do well. I think if he could change that decision the whole West Indies would be happy," the Jamaican big-hitter said.

The last time, KKR travelled to Chepauk they suffered a batting collapse against the Chennai Super Kings and were restricted for a below-par 137/9. CSK won the match by seven wickets with 14 balls to spare.

Russell hoped to use conditions well this time by bowling more cutters and not yorkers much.

"I think Chennai is a big ground, kind of a weird condition, you don't know what to expect. The last time we played there against Chennai, the wicket looked good. I didn't expect the wicket to play the way it did.

"It was on the slower side, but when you look at CSK's bowling attack, they bowl well on that wicket. They use the wicket well, so I think it's good to have that experience going into the finals.

"We know how we need to bowl, utilise our cutters, and try not to go for yorkers and those sorts of things. It's the type of pitch and ground where you can bowl into the wicket, even in the death overs. We have to go about it as smartly as possible, taking it one game at a time.

"I think when the time comes, we've been adjusting well as a bowling unit. If the wicket is a bit slow, we can use power cutters but not be too predictable. I'm there to help the youngsters as well. These guys are interested in learning, and that's the best thing," added Russell.

Struggling with knee injuries for sometime, Russell is now more discipline and spending more time at the gym.

"I am just more disciplined and trying to do the things that are uncomfortable a bit, that’s actually in terms of going to the gym, and trying to do it every other day and trying to get my legs stronger because I've been struggling with knee injuries for the last couple of years and sometimes you take a lot of things for granted.

"When thousands and millions of fans worldwide watching games, seeing you not performing or getting injured, I think it's not good and I look into myself and I think me and the gym, we are the best friends, so I think that's why I'm more fit in this season."

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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