IPL 8: Sunil Narine is irreplaceable but Hogg, Botha filling the void

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Kolkata: Made to ponder on life beyond Sunil Narine, Kolkata Knight Riders seemed to have recovered from and reconciled to the absence of their most potent bowler. While the loss of the West Indian ‘mystery’ spinner, all but taken out of the mix following repeated frowns from match officials over his bowling action, would have been telling on the defending champions’ prospects, particularly in the temporary absence of Shakib Al Hasan, the void has been nicely filled through the combined effort of the available spinners.

KKR’s Sunil Narine
KKR’s Sunil Narine

Spin-friendly wicket While ‘Chinaman’ bowler Brad Hogg, complete with his wrong-uns, has brought both enthusiasm and effectiveness to the middle, off-spinner Johan Botha is relishing the opportunity and conditions that KKR enjoy at home. At the Eden on Monday, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Knights dropped Aussie pacer Pat Cummins for some extra options in the spin department.

Brad Hogg
Brad Hogg

“Three-four spinners... That’s the way KKR have played in the past. It helps that one or two of them can bat high up in the order. I’ve been watching them, and there are always lots of spinners and wickets to suit them. Coming to KKR, it’s something I was looking forward to. In the coming matches here, may be it’s spin a little more,” said Botha after a round of golf with KKR mates at the RCGC yesterday. The South African’s figures (4-0-32-1) were spoilt by the 21 runs he conceded in his final over but he is happy that the spinners had a big say in the 35-run victory.

Johan Botha
Johan Botha

So, have they got over the Narine knock?

“You can never compete with Narine; he’s a genius. What he has been doing in IPL is unbelievable. He bowls in the first six, he bowls at the death, comes away with 2 for 20, 2 for 18. That’s hard to replace. So everyone has to work a little bit harder (to make up for his absence). The batsmen did well to put those runs on the board yesterday and we just have to bowl the way we do best,” he said, adding: “It worked well last night, we tried to keep it tight and have the run-rate going up so that batsmen are forced to do something desperate. That’s the way I have always bowled.”

Not surprising
Botha said he is not surprised that Hogg has hit the right notes straightaway. “I have been watching him at the Big Bash for four years and he’s been unbelievable for Perth, been their trump card,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see where we go in the next few games, stay on similar (slow turning) wicket or go on a different surface,” he added. Narine’s absence is fast becoming an opportunity more than an angst in the KKR camp.

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