It was just about a week back when the Royal Challengers Bangalore took T20 cricket a notch higher at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Chris Gayle became the undisputed champion of power hitting after a demoralising knock of 175 not out in just 66 balls against the Pune Warriors. Since then, the side has lost to Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals away from home with Gayle unable to recreate his magic.
On Thursday, when the Jamaican faces the same Pune attack at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium, he will look to find his groove and break his side's two-game slump.
The Gayle-factor has not been as effective away from home this season and the side will look up to the Jamaican for inspiration.
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"We need another left-hand batsman. One big, tall, West Indian is not scoring runs. We need to replace him," RCB coach Ray Jennings said in lighter vein on Wednesday.
In fact, the side has lost all their four games on the road. Matches against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings were close and Jennings believes the away factor does not hold much weight in the Indian T20 league. "It's hard to say. When the side is playing well, venue doesn't matter. Unfortunately, we have not been playing good cricket in the past two games."
The side was also forced to play games on tight schedule due to the Karnataka State Elections, but Jennings says that's not an issue. "When you come to the IPL, fatigue is not a factor. That's the way life is. If we go to sleep in the street or have a bad net, I can't afford negative energy," he said.
A battle-worn Pune Warriors, who skipped practice, will look to Bhuvneshwar Kumar to remove Gayle early. Kumar gave away just 23 runs in his spell as Gayle took apart the others. If Pune do manage to beat RCB, they could play party-poopers after Super Kings virtually sealed a spot in the playoffs.
A four-way battle is being formed for the remaining three spots with RCB, Rajasthan, Mumbai and Hyderabad tied on 12 points.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.