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Beware of Gayle storm

cricket Updated: May 11, 2011 02:08 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times
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Wednesday will be Shane Warne’s swansong here.

Going by the way things have panned out over the past few days, the must-win game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore will be a sad exit for one who has come to be recognized as the Pink City's face on the cricket field.

The pitch controversy aside, Warne and his men had to grapple with some trouble on Tuesday. They couldn't practice as the Royal Challengers Bangalore had booked the nets for a 6-8 pm session. Anytime earlier would have meant roasting in the sun.

Besides, if Monday’s performance is an indicator, then the hosts are in for a grind. The RCB are in great form with Chris Gayle looking unstoppable and the new wicket helping the ball to come onto the bat, will suit his style of play.

As Warne put it, “We had to win three out of four games. Now, we'll have to win four out of four.”

Warne knows the magnitude of the task considering the way his team performed. And though he didn't like the sudden change of wicket, he was gracious in defeat. “I don't blame the loss on the track. It was the same for us. Chennai simply outplayed us. We weren't just good enough,” he said.

It’ll be interesting to see what line-up he comes up with on Wednesday, since there’s not much turn from the wicket.

What may be a concern is the way they approached the game on Monday. Shoulders drooped, the Royals never looked to be in the game. Only Johan Botha bowled with some purpose, tightening things up. He's starred with the bat at No. 3 but was sent in at No. 6. “Well, we wanted the best bats, the top four, to go out there and get a big score. But it didn't happen,” Warne reasoned.

The Royals Challengers meanwhile look a side on a roll. They have Gayle firing at the top, who can make use of shorter boundary on one side. But if they lose him early, then the rest of the batting hasn’t spent too much time in the middle.

But the good thing for them is that Tillakaratne Dilshan will be playing this match. He was expected to leave before this game for Sri Lanka’s tour of England. As Vettori said, “We want to win this game as we want to finish at either number one or two on the table.” Match box

The Challengers, having played one match less, are in fourth place with 13 points. The Royals are at fifth with 11. A win here might tie them with RCB on points. A loss, however, will mean an end to it.