Sunil Narine will be the talk of the town heading into the IPL 2015 match between KKR and RR, and unfortunately not for positive reasons after the mystery spinner was reported for a suspect action.
Narine and his is-it-legal action have been a constant cause for worry for KKR, ever since the West Indian was banned form bowling in the Champions League T20 last season.
A changed action, approved by the ICC and BCCI, after tests in Loughborough and Chennai, seemed to have finally put that issue to rest only for the umpires to report Narine after the match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday.
While Narine is eligible to bowl against the Rajasthan Royals on Sunday at the Eden Gardens, it remains unlikely that the team management will risk playing him, despite sending the bowler for another round of tests in Chennai to get him cleared once more. Once those test results come out, depending on how it goes, Narine's future will be clearer, but until then, KKR will probably want to wrap their key spinner up in cotton wool.
Narine and KKR's loss could be Rajasthan Royals' gain, with the Shane Watson-led side desperate to get back to winning ways after losing their last two matches, losses which has pulled them from the top of the table into second. RR started IPL 2015 like a house on fire, winning their first five matches, but that momentum has certainly quelled now with a Super Over loss to the Kings XI Punjab and a thorough beating at the hands of the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday.
"We need to bat well," RR all-rounder Stuart Binny told IPL's official website. "We have the firepower, we have the guys who can take the score to 200 in the back end of the game.
"The starts have been excellent so far. We messed up only one start so far. We need to give ourselves little bit of time and go hard again.
"Bowling is something that we can definitely work on, especially in the death overs. We have practiced hard, and now it is about coming out and executing it. We are going to take a break and come out fresh."
KKR are also coming off a loss, in that game against SRH, and having suffered their second defeat in five matches, the defending champions will know the importance of coming out firing at home, a ground where they have seemed near unstoppable more often than not.
It remains to be seen how Narine's absence or presence – if he is rested or given a go despite all the unwanted attention – will affect KKR. The team covered all their bases for such an occurrence by signing KC Cariappa for big bucks, while they also have Kuldeep Yadav in their team, the left-arm chinaman bowler who was so impressive in the CLT20 last year and has been cooling his heels on the bench all IPL 2015.
Where to Watch Live
KKR vs RR is scheduled for a 4 pm IST (11.30 am BST, 6.30 am ET) start with live coverage in India on Sony Max, Sony Six, Sony Aath, Sony Kix. The IPL 2015 game can also be watched via online live streaming on Starsports.com and Hotstar.
Catch the match action live in the US on ESPN, while the game can also be live streamed on ESPN Cricket. Sky Sports will show KKR vs RR live in the UK, while the live stream option is on Watch Sky Sports and Sky Go.
Audience in the rest of the world can watch Kolkata Knight Riders vs Rajasthan Royals live on Cricketgateway.com.