West Indies hope to bring Sunil Narine out of retirement after brilliant IPL form

Kolkata Knight Riders all-rounder scored a century and picked up two wickets against Rajasthan Royals

Kolkata Knight Riders' Sunil Narine has been in brilliant form with bat and ball this season. AP
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Star all-rounder Sunil Narine's sizzling form in the IPL has made him a prime prospect for the T20 World Cup in June, with West Indies captain Rovman Powell revealing he has been trying to coax Narine to come out of retirement and play in the showpiece event in the Caribbean and US.

Narine, 35, had announced his retirement from international cricket in 2023, four years after playing his last match for the West Indies.

The spin bowling all-rounder then became a full-time franchise cricketer, but his effectiveness seemed to be diminishing over the last few seasons. This year, however, Narine has turned into a T20 force to be reckoned with.

On Tuesday, Narine smashed 109 off 56 balls and claimed 2-30, including the wicket of Powell, for the Kolkata Knight Riders. And while his efforts were not enough as Jos Buttler steered Rajasthan Royals' successful chase of 224 with an unbeaten hundred, Narine emerged as the standout performer.

After the match, Powell said Narine has been on the radar of West Indies management for some time.

"For the last 12 months, I've been whispering in his ears, but he's blocked out everyone," Powell said about trying to convince Narine to reverse his decision to retire. "I have asked [Kieron] Pollard, [Dwayne] Bravo, [Nicholas] Pooran. Hopefully, before they select the team, they can crack his code."

Narine was cryptic in his response when asked if he would come out of retirement to play in the World Cup, especially since a big portion of the tournament will be held in the Caribbean.

"It is what it is, but let's see what the future holds," Narine said.

Narine has been giving Kolkata blazing starts at the top of the order this season, treating pacers and spinners with equal disdain. However, it is his bowling that has stood out even in high-scoring matches.

Narine has started to bowl his full quota of overs every match, even though the Knight Riders have more than enough bowling options. In two matches this season, Narine bowled four overs without conceding a single boundary โ€“ against Lucknow and Hyderabad.

After six matches, Narine has seven wickets at an economy of less than seven an over, and nearly 300 runs at a strike rate of over 180. If he does come out of retirement, Narine is likely to be the first name in the playing XI for the West Indies at the showpiece event.

Narine's efforts at the Eden Gardens were in vain, however, as Buttler produced one of the best innings in the IPL this year.

Chasing 224 for victory, Rajasthan looked in trouble at 121-6 in the 13th over but Buttler paced his innings brilliantly in his 60-ball 107 not out to achieve the target with two wickets to spare.

Rajasthan thus equalled their own record from 2020 when they chased down 224 against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah.

Buttler, who came in as an impact substitute, reached his second ton of the season in 55 balls with a six off Varun Chakravarthy at the start of the last over.

Buttler, who was struggling with cramps โ€“ much like Narine when he came on to bowl after scoring a ton โ€“ then played out three dot balls before a two and a single on the final delivery to ensure Rajasthan prevailed in the battle between the top two teams of the season so far.

Updated: April 17, 2024, 8:44 AM