It was March 16 at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Playing the first game of the ICC World T20 Super 10s, West Indies were set a 183-run target by England. Big stage, big game, big total and the big man came up with a big daddy performance.
After losing Johnson Charles in the very first over, it was Chris Gayle or nothing for the Darren Sammy-led unit. The left-hander came good, and how.
After punishing the English attack for 17 overs, hitting 11 sixes and five fours in the process, Gayle opened the face of the blade to collect a single – his hundredth run.
Out came the helmet, the arms went up, one came down briefly to point towards the dressing room and the six-footer went down on his knees. He was soaking in the moment, and why shouldn’t he? It was a special effort which helped his side chase down a stiff total.
With Gayle, there’s always a sense of suspense after the one good knock, or for that matter – the big daddy knock. Will he? Won’t he? The big daddy is followed by plenty of smaller scores and the pressure only increases on the team management. Drop him? Keep him? What to do with him?
It’s a similar situation that Royal Challengers Bangalore find themselves in this season. They are in a sudden-death scenario and can’t afford any more slip-ups, a Gayle failure in particular. Since the World Cup tonne, the left-hander is yet to enter double digits. His scores paint a disappointing picture.
4, 5, 4, 1, 0, 7, 5. Last four being his outings for the RCB, a team which relies heavily on batting. If numbers are taken into account, Gayle doesn’t deserve to be in the XI. K L Rahul has been doing a terrific job with the bat and deserves to open the innings with Virat Kohli.
But here’s where the team is in a fix. With players like Gayle, reputation and sheer ability to swing the game plays a major role. But can RCB afford it at this stage of the tournament? That’s doubtful.
Wins in all games is not an easy task but not impossible. Pressure will again be on RCB batting to give the bowlers an extra cushion and this is the area where the team management needs to take a call. Drop Gayle for an all-rounder? Someone who could make the attack strong and can be an asset in the field. Gayle, we all know, is not the fastest around. And, there are no pillars to hide behind in this format.
Batsmen have an array of shots in their armoury and there is no blind spot. It’s a tough call to make but looks to be a no-brainer, especially at this stage. Gayle is a destructive force but his 13 runs in four games at a strike rate of just 65 has not helped RCB.