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IPL 2014: Onus on Chris Gayle to take Royal Challengers Bangalore all the way

Chris Gayle can be devastating on the bowlers in the T20 format © IANS
Chris Gayle can be devastating on the bowlers in the T20 format © IANS

Chris Gayle had a tough time during the ICC World T20 2014 and approaches another Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign with promise to deliver. Nishad Pai Vaidya writes about Gayle’s value to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).

Statistics would tell you that the Indian Premier League (IPL) is Chris Gayle’s turf. The two-time Orange Cap winner found his true touch for the format during his tryst with the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). His mindboggling exploits with the bat have baffled bowlers and amazed spectators. There is a sense that he is more comfortable at home when he comes over for his willow becomes a ferocious prospect and can single handedly destroy any bowling attack. Bangalore would hope he gets back into his best touch ahead of the IPL 2014.

Gayle wasn’t in the best touch during the recent ICC World T20 2014. Barring the half-century against Australia, where he was irked by some banter by James Faulkner, Gayle didn’t get going and struggled to make an impact. Gayle doesn’t run hard between the wickets and it was even more apparent during the World T20. Plus, he usually takes his time in the middle before the brutal assault. During the World T20, that brutal assault did not come as his knocks were nipped in the bud. Those weren’t good signs for Bangalore, but one may say he is just one knock away from bouncing back.

Perhaps Gayle may be putting himself under a lot of pressure by taking time early on. Yes, he does have the ability to catch up. You can only afford to take that time in this format if you have the exceptional ability to smash a ball at will. While that has worked for Gayle most of the time, it still bears a few risks as it may end up putting pressure on the batsmen at the other end and the lower-order if he gets out early. Then, they are left with a lot to do and they may not be able to find the boundaries as consistently as Gayle does.

When Gayle starts off well, it not only puts the opposition on the back-foot, but the camp also starts feeling a lot better. Here is someone who can keep going and early signs are often ominous of a bigger assault in store. When Gayle takes his time, there is that lurking danger, but the opposition also gets hopeful of getting him out soon to put pressure on the side.

When compared to the West Indies, Gayle may have a better time with Bangalore. He has Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh to follow. This is a formidable middle-order and Gayle can take his chances upfront. He is much better when he is more expressive and perhaps this depth in batting may give more freedom. He isn’t going to run a lot, but will make up for it with those boundaries if he gets in his zone.

Some of Gayle’s T20 stats are simply stupendous. He starts the IPL 2014 as the leading run-scorer in the format. Consider this: Gayle’s 5,992 runs in T20s overall have come off 164 matches, while the next best Brad Hodge took 217 matches for his 5,884 runs. In the IPL, Gayle has scored 2,512 runs in 59 matches and is on the third spot. Suresh Raina, the leading run-scorer has played 40 more matches but is only around 300 runs ahead. Plus, Gayle has smashed the most sixes in the tournament i.e. 180. Raina is second at 115. These numbers do tell you why Gayle stands out from the rest and is clearly the best T20 batsman going around. Things haven’t looked good for him off-late, but the numbers do back him to come good.

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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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