Sunil Narine plays a shot during the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 cricket match between Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on May 12, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Be it his mystery bowling or an ability to stay calm under the pressure cooker atmosphere of IPL, Sunil Narine of Kolkata Knight Riders is one of his kind. The latest X-factor in his game is his batting skills, especially in the role of an effective pinch hitter.

It was an experiment by the KKR team management to promote Narine to the top of the order when their opener Chris Lynn had dislocated his shoulder after two matches this season — that has now turned out to be a huge success.

Narine’s 75 off just 36 balls with nine boundaries and four sixes ensured Kolkata a 31-run victory over Kings XI Punjab at Indore on Saturday. His innings has been termed as an explosion. He has played the role of a pinch hitter so effectively that his first two half-centuries have came off just 15 and 17 balls respectively against Royal Challengers Bangalore. So aggressive are his knocks that when he reached his third fifty on Saturday against Kolkata in 26 balls and was termed the ‘slowest.’

When Narine was asked about his skills to demolish bowlers, he described at length: “When the bowlers bowl short, I just try to stay as still as possible and make contact. Get as close to the ball as I can and go after it, because the ground was small to hit a six that you have to be still. It was a flat wicket. When the spinners were bowling, I just tried to back myself.”

Narine is so happy with his batting show that he is enjoying the IPL. “If I bowl bad, it gives me a chance to do well with the bat and vice versa. I am happy I can contribute somewhere in every game.”

Narine is so effective with his pull shots that bowlers are now afraid to bowl short at him. For any bowling attack, it is hard not to bowl short and Narine has picked up his maximum runs from the leg side especially square leg to mid-wicket. Many senior cricketers have acknowledged his batting ability as phenomenal.

Narine, who has often run into trouble with his bowling action with ICC sending him for rehabilitation, may now walk into any team with his batting skills alone.