What’s the story?
Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli, who will be returning to action for Friday’s clash against Mumbai Indians, has backed under-fire Caribbean batsman Chris Gayle to flex his muscles in the team’s home matches.
Kohli insisted, “When you want to create a combination, you throw in all sorts of names as far as the away guys are concerned. Chris (Gayle) has always been a priority for us in the past so many seasons. Last game was a scenario where AB (de Villiers) came in and Watto (Shane Watson) was captaining, and the other two guys (Billy Stanlake and Tymal Mills) were bowling well.”
“So it was difficult to leave three of the others out and AB is in anyway. With that regard, that was why Chris was left out last game. What works for us in Bangalore, we will definitely go in with the strongest combination possible. Chris is a top contender to be playing the home games for us.”
RCB did the unthinkable in their previous game against Kings XI Punjab at Indore when they dropped talisman Gayle from the playing eleven in favour of an additional overseas pace bowler. Apart from de Villiers, their other batsmen struggled to come to terms with the surface and limped to a meagre total that was eventually overhauled with ease by Punjab.
The heart of the matter
At the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Gayle has amassed 1508 runs from 39 innings at an impressive average of 45.69 and a remarkable strike rate of 163. In fact, only Kohli has scored more runs at this venue than the burly Jamaican.
While his home numbers warrant him an automatic place in the RCB line-up, Gayle’s recent form has been quite patchy. With age slowing his reflexes, the 37-year old has not reached the fifty-run mark in his last ten T20 matches. It’s pertinent to note that he had arrived into this IPL season on the back of some indifferent form in the second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).
All eyes will be on RCB’s playing eleven when their next home match begins at 1600 IST on Friday against Mumbai Indians. With captain Kohli coming back into the side, Gayle could follow suit as well. Due to middling returns in his first three games, Watson’s place appears to be in considerable jeopardy.
With the stadium’s higher altitude and shorter boundaries aiding shot making, Gayle’s inclusion for RCB’s home matches is a no-brainer. Perhaps, the team management could leave out either Watson or one of the two overseas pacers to accommodate the seasoned campaigner.