Kolkata: Bowling with a remodelled action, star spinner Sunil Narine - who played a pivotal role in Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) twin Indian Premier League (IPL) crowns - seemed to be far from his threatening best during the defending champion's opening encounter against Mumbai Indians on Wednesday.
Sunil Narine. Pic/PTI
Only days back, the mystery spinner had been at the centre of a controversy after the BCCI asked him to go for a repeat test for his suspect bowling action.
The Knights's management responded by threatening to pull out of the cash-rich league if Narine was not allowed to play.
But Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya took an adamant stand and Narine had to undergo a biomechanical assessment at the International Cricket Council (ICC)-accredited Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre (SRMC) centre in Chennai. He was then cleared by a BCCI sub-committee.
However, playing his first match since the T20 Champions Trophy 2014 - after which he was barred for a suspect action - the West Indies offie looked rusty, even as a near capacity crowd at the Eden Gardens welcomed him with a thunderous roar.
Narine conceded a boundary in his very first ball, as he bowled a full-toss first up to rival captain Rohit Sharma who smashed it to the fence with ease.
The spinner then took up a position inside the 15-yard circle with skipper Gautam Gambhir not willing to tire his spin wizard.
In his next over too, Narine was spot on, but Rohit, who was playing with superb fluency, cut him for a boundary in the fifth delivery.
The over yielded just six runs but had Gambhir scampering to his champion spinner to give him a bit of advice.
Narine gave away 11 runs in his first spell of two overs.
Knights skipper Gambhir brought his trump card back into the attack in the 14th over hoping for a break through as Mumbai had started to look threatening at 76/3.
The 26-year-old got into his groove in his penultimate over as he was able to bamboozle both the batsmen to keep them to just four runs in the over but a complaint from the umpire had him take a more cautious approach to the popping crease.
His last over yielded 13 runs as Rohit rocketed him to the square leg boundary and then sent the leather into the crowd.
Narine though was a little unlucky as wicket-keeper Robin Uthappa dropped the Mumbai skipper after he nicked an away-going delivery in the third ball of his last over.
Conceding three fours and a six, Narine was economical but did not look menacing as he finished wicketless, returning figures of 0/28 from his four overs.
The Knights conceded 88 runs in the last six over as Mumbai riding on Rohit and Corey Anderson unbeaten 131 run partnership posted a formidable 168/3.