Kolkata had a walk in the park against Delhi Daredevils. Perhaps they would have liked to be stretched a bit more in their opening game, but the team surely isn’t complaining. Andre Russell made light of a jet lag to take three wickets. Brad Hogg and Piyush Chawla bowled well in tandem to share five between them. Sunil Narine’s absence was not felt. Captain Gautam Gambhir, too, looked to be fine fettle.
Mumbai Indians, however, had been hammered in their backyard by Rising Pune Supergiants. It was one of those days, when batting collectively failed. Harbhajan Singh top-scored with 45 not out and the bowlers could account for only one opposition wicket in 14.4 overs. Mumbai are usually slow starters. They had bounced back from three straight losses last term to win the title. But such turnarounds don’t regularly happen.
The ageless Aussie
It was fascinating to see Brad Hogg teasing Pawan Negi and Sanju Samson at Eden Gardens on Sunday. Negi was a toddler, when the Australian chinaman bowler made his first-class debut back in 1993-94. Samson wasn’t born even. The evergreen Hogg snapped up the ‘kids’ and returned with 3/19 from four overs. The 45-year-old has been repeatedly proving that age is just a number. At his age, however, it’s not just about the skill-set. Fitness too becomes important.
Finally, Sunil Narine is set to return to fold, for the first time since November last year. The ICC has cleared him to bowl, but the Trinidadian missed Kolkata’s opening fixture as he returned home following his father’s death. The off-spinner is expected to be available for tomorrow’s game but can he retain his mystery with a remodelled action? Narine had made big contributions during Kolkata’s title-winning campaigns in 2012 and 2014 with 24 (economy 5.47) and 21 (economy 6.35) scalps respectively.
Last season, with serious question marks over the legality of his action, he could only manage seven wickets from eight matches. But now the “monkey is off his back”, and Gambhir believes Narine would regain his mojo. Time will offer a proper reflection of his effectiveness, but at the moment, the more pressing issue for the think-tank seems to be readjusting the team combination. Bringing on Narine for Hogg would be a like-for-like replacement. But the latter’s current form makes him almost undroppable.