Leaving Gayle in his zone has helped Bangalore

Ex-India pacer says Zaheer Khan has been tremendous off the field

Pundits believe that Chris Gayle is a batsman born to take bowlers to the cleaners and the T20 format was tailormade for the Jamaican. But that wasn’t always the case, as evidenced by his struggles in his first couple of seasons of the Indian Premier League for Kolkata Knight Riders.

But in his three seasons for the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Gayle has amassed 1,907 runs including four hundreds and 13 fifties. If that isn’t enough proof of his prowess, he hit a breathtaking 30-ball hundred against Pune Warriors India.

Speaking to MAIL TODAY, Venkatesh Prasad — assistant coach for the Royal Challengers — feels that the attitude in the team is what makes Gayle click.

“Gayle likes to be in his zone and we have left him there. He is enjoying himself both on and off the field. And the best thing about him is that he is a true professional.

He knows what needs to be done and when. Switching on and off is no issue for him,” Prasad said.

“Also, the boys are pushing everyone in the team for a place in the playing XI and it is a terrific atmosphere. Everyone talks about Gayle winning us so many matches, but I feel it goes both ways. I feel the best thing to have happened to him is playing for RCB. The reason is very simple.

We don’t put undue pressure on him.” While critics feel that Virat Kohli is too young to be made skipper of the Indian national team, those who have seen him lead Bangalore in the IPL would definitely agree that he has done a spectacular job.

Agreed that Bangalore haven’t been as convincing in away matches, but be it Kohli’s ‘ never say die’ approach on the field or the brash attitude with which he smashes opposition bowlers, Kohli has definitely shown he can walk the talk.

“Kohli has been awesome. Not only is he a very positive person, but his influence also rubs off on the others. He is aggressive, throws himself around and most importantly has developed an attitude of ‘ play to win’ not only for himself, but also for the others in the team. And when it comes to his batting, I feel his record [405 runs at a strike- rate of 129.39 in 12 matches] speaks for itself,” the former India mediumpacer said.

“It is a well-balanced team with a right mix of youth and experience and I feel that Kohli has not only ensured that the players go on to the field with a lot of confidence, but also the team hasn’t dwelled too much about the losses.” While RCB have two quality fast bowlers in R. Vinay Kumar and R. P. Singh, it is no surprise that the team has missed the experience of Zaheer Khan in the death overs and in pressure situations.

Death bowling let them down against SunRisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings.

Once again against Kings XI Punjab, things could have been very different if Zaheer was part of the bowling attack — when David Miller did a Gayle himself, scoring a 38-ball 100.

But Prasad assured that Zaheer is making rapid progress and he would be a part of the playing XI in some time.

“Zak is coming out of injury and has shown a lot of improvement.

While it will still take a while for him to make it back to the field, he has been tremendous off the field. But he will definitely play this season. Off the field, he is willing to not only share his knowledge, but also show the skills he has up his sleeves. He has been very valuable for us — off the field,” he said.


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