Reports: Sunil Narine opts to skip Vitality Blast finals Day for taking part in Major League Cricket in USA
Sunil Narine will lead the Los Angeles Knight Riders in the Major League Cricket to be played in the USA.
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Sunil Narine played a vital role in helping Surrey reach the semifinals of the 2023 T20 Blast. Surrey finished third in the South Group with eight wins in 14 matches. They defeated Lancashire in the quarterfinals on Friday, July 7, by 13 runs to reach the semis.
The mystery spinner managed to scalp 20 wickets in 15 games at an average of 22.85 for Surrey in the ongoing season of the T20 Blast. He also contributed 203 runs with the bat at a strike rate of under 160. However, he would not be playing any further part in the remaining tournament as he has travelled to the USA to play in the inaugural Major League Cricket (MLC).
As per ESPNcricinfo, Surrey were expecting Narine to take part in the semifinals at Edgbaston on July 15 and immediately travel to the USA to play the MLC. The West Indian spinner is set to lead the Los Angeles Knight Riders in the tournament. They are playing in the tournament opener against Texas Super Kings on July 14 and again on July 16. However, Narine will not be taking the 9,000-mile round trip as Surrey will have Sean Abbott as their only overseas player for the business end of the Blast.
Under ECB regulations, Surrey cannot bring in an overseas replacement. It will be tough for them to fill the void left by the absence of Narine.
It's disappointing and frustrating to lose a player of Sunil's quality at such late notice: Stewart
Surrey's Director of Cricket, Alec Stewart, said that he was aware of Sunil Narine's potential unavailability for the Finals Day when he was signed. However, he revealed that subsequent discussions gave them hope that the star spinner would be available for the big semis.
"We were aware when we signed Sunil for the T20 Blast that he could be unavailable for Finals Day due to his pre-signed contract with the Knight Riders in the MLC," Stewart was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
"However, all of the subsequent conversations with the various parties since he arrived for the group games and leading into this week were that we would have his back for Saturday, so it's disappointing and frustrating to lose a player of Sunil's quality at such late notice. Sunil's absence now presents a great opportunity for another player to come into the team and make an impact at Edgbaston this weekend."
Surrey will lock horns with Somerset in the semifinals on July 15 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.