Captain Virat Kohli’s stunning return to the team against Mumbai Indians on Friday failed to gloss over the fact that Royal Challengers Bangalore have been burdened with the weight they are having to lug around in the form of struggling Chris Gayle.
It takes 11 to tango in a team sport like cricket, but the mercurial West Indian, along with Australian Shane Watson, has emerged as the weakest link for Bangalore, especially given the absence of Kohli and AB de Villiers as they missed early matches in an effort to attain match fitness.
Popularly known as the ‘Universal Boss’, Gayle has looked anything but in this 10th edition of the Indian Premier League, and also during the Pakistan Super League that was played earlier this year in the UAE. In fact, ever since the 37-year-old Jamaican had his back surgery towards the second half of 2015, he has looked a shadow of his former self.
In the PSL, Gayle contributed just 160 runs in nine matches. He faced 134 balls for that to have a strike rate of 115.1 – considered very poor by his own high standards – and his highest score in the tournament was 44.
In the IPL so far, he has played in three matches that has netted just 60 runs for RCB at a strike rate that is even lower than what he achieved in the PSL – 107.1.
It’s difficult to ignore the past when you are judging a player of the calibre of Gayle. Who can ever forget that unbeaten knock of 175 he hammered in 66 balls against Pune Warriors in 2013, or the 255 sixes he has dispatched into the crowd so far, which is 92 more than the second man in the list of most sixes (Rohit Sharma, 163)?
While completely understanding what Gayle brings to the table, reputation cannot be the only criterion for selection in the playing eleven.
Given the importance of Gayle’s batting position at the top, where he can make good use of the hardness of the ball as well as the restricted field placement because of the Powerplay, it is imperative that he fires. In T20s, the No1, 2 and 3 in the batting line-up need to be your best, and unfortunately, Gayle does not fit into that right now.
It’s not just that he is not scoring runs, Gayle’s running between the wickets has been pathetic. In the loss to Mumbai, there were at least three occasions when any other batsman in the company of Kohli would have taken a couple, but the lethargic movement of Gayle resulted in singles.
And while he did take a couple of catches – of two successive deliveries – there really are very few places where you can put him on the field. In this format of the game, you’ve got to be good in the outfield. It is difficult to remain hidden inside the 30-yard circle for the entire duration of the match.
It really would be a prudent move on the part of Bangalore to rest Gayle for a few matches. They have already lost three matches in four outings so far and a couple of losses more would be disastrous for their first objective of reaching the knock-out stage.
Given that Gayle is already 37, and the back surgery hasn’t made things easier for him, a retirement from the game would not be a bad move. He is a legend, and that image should not be tarnished in these last few years.
Obviously, their hands are a bit tied by the injury-related absence of KL Rahul, who was absolutely sensational for Bangalore last year.
However, this really is a case of believing in unknown angels. The swashbuckling Travis Head could well be the answer to their misery.
Another team that is suffering from banking on reputations, but has somehow managed to win their matches, is Mumbai Indians. Kieron Pollard delivered after his Twitter showdown with commentator Sanjay Manjrekar for calling him ‘brainless’ on air, but Harbhajan Singh (two wickets in three matches) and captain Rohit Sharma (nine runs in four matches) will have to step up soon to justify their places in the team.
On a day when two bowlers – Samuel Badree and Andrew Tye – picked up hat-tricks and Kieron Pollard played a special knock to guide Mumbai Indians to victory, it was a tough choice to select the best player of the day.
In the end, Tye gets the honour for April 14 after his superb showing with the ball in what was his first ever match in the Indian Premier League [IPL].
Replacing Jason Roy in the Gujarat team, the 30-year-old Australian got a wicket in his first over, dismissing Rahul Tripathi who was looking set for a big score. He followed that up with another scalp in his second over, removing the dangerous Ben Stokes who got off to a good start.
But Tye’s best came in the final over of the Pune innings, when he registered the 16th hat-trick in the history of the IPL. He showed some great variations to get rid of Ankit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, and Shardul Thakur off consecutive deliveries.
Tye was, unsurprisingly, named the Player of the Match for his splendid bowling figures of 5-17.
The bowling part of the Lions’ team seemed to be a bit of a weakness this season, but if Tye is able to carry on performing like this, expect the Suresh Raina-led side to make a serious push for the playoff spots.
5 players have taken multiple hat-tricks in Twenty20s but Yuvraj Singh and Andrew Tye are the only ones to take 2 hat-tricks in a year. #IPL— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) April 14, 2017
The Indian Premier League action continues as Delhi Daredevils host Kings XI Punjab in the 15th match of this year’s tournament and we have all your angles you covered.
Ahead of the match, we have the latest team news, time and date, as well as how you can watch all the action from the UAE.
DATE, TIME, VENUE INFO
Date: April 15, 2017 (Saturday)
Time: 18:30 GST, 20:00 local time (IST), 14:30 GMT
Venue: Feroz Shah Kolta
WHERE TO WATCH, LIVE STREAMING INFO
TV: UAE – OSN Sports Cricket HD, India – Sony Six, Sony Six HD (English), Sony Max, Sony Max HD 3 (Hindi), UK – Sky Sports
Online streaming: hotstar.com, Hotstar app (in India only)
TEAM NEWS, SQUADS, PREDICTED XIs
DD SQUAD: Zaheer Khan (C), Ankit Bawne, Khaleel Ahmed, Corey Anderson, Murugan Ashwin, Sam Billings, Carlos Brathwaite, Pat Cummins, Shreyas Iyer, Angelo Mathews, CV Milind, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Chris Morris, Shahbaz Nadeem, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Pratyush Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Navdeep Saini, Sanju Samson, Shashank Singh, Aditya Tare, Jayant Yadav
Delhi were superb in their last outing, Sanju Samson firing a maiden IPL century in an innings that goes somewhat to fulfilling his immense potential.
That win over Rising Pune Supergiant was a major boost for Zaheer Khan’s men as they put to bed their woeful outing in the first game.
It will have provided some great momentum for the Delhi outfit and a platform to build upon so expect them to go unchanged.
PREDICTED DD XI: Tare, Billings, Nair, Samson, Pant, Morris, Anderson, Cummins, Mishra, Nadeem, Zaheer (c)
KXIP SQUAD: Glenn Maxwell (c), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Shaun Marsh, Armaan Jaffer, Hashim Amla, Eoin Morgan, Martin Guptill, Rinku Singh, Axar Patel, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Marcus Stoinis, Darren Sammy, Rahul Tewatia, Wriddhiman Saha, Nikhil Naik, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, KC Cariappa, Matt Henry, T Natarajan, Varun Aaron, Pardeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, Ishant Sharma
Kings XI were humbled by a destructive Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday night, their first defeat of the season after two wins from two before that match.
It does give Punjab a chance to freshen up the side and maybe rest a couple of players in a bid to get back to winning ways.
Eoin Morgan, Martin Guptill and Matt Henry are the overseas stars still waiting in the wings and this may well be a chance to give them a run out.
Morgan or Guptill in for Marcus Stoinis looks the most likely change.
PREDICTED KXIP XI: Amla, Vohra, Saha, Patel, Maxwell (c), Miller, Morgan, M Sharma, Aaron, Sandeep, Ishant
(Last five matches – with latest match first)
DD: W L L W L
KXIP: L W W L L
Delhi were brilliant last time out, showing just what their side is capable of. Another win for the Daredevils.