Within a couple of weeks’ time, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers will don the red and gold Royal Challengers Bangalore outfit in the Indian Premier League and show no mercy as they go about dismantling opposition bowlers for a common cause.
On Friday, however, they will be in opposite camps furthering the cause of their respective teams as the West Indies and South Africa lock horns in what is labelled as the marquee game in Group 1 of Super 10s stage of the T20 World Cup at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium.
Gayle’s encore of his swashbuckling knock against England could seal the Windies’ a place in the last-four stage. The Jamaican looks like a man on a mission, wanting to face as many deliveries as possible. The energy and enthusiasm was evident during West Indies’ victory over Sri Lanka in Bengaluru when the match was not in their grasp.
Trudging around in the dressing room balcony, all geared up and obviously desperate to take the crease, Gayle wasn’t allowed to do so as he had to serve the mandatory time out because he was off the field after a hamstring injury during fielding.
The news is he has recovered fully and will look to slay the Proteas against whom he enjoys an average of above 50 in the shortest format. With their bowling failing to perform as a unit, Gayle would look to further compound their misery.
The Proteas, on the other hand, will hope that De Villiers comes to the party in their crucial matches in T20s. But, so far, he has not.
It doesn’t get bigger than this for South Africa. A victory against the Windies would mean their future in the tournament is in their own hands. But a loss would have their fate depend on other results and will also put them under intense pressure in their last group match against Sri Lanka.
What South Africa will be hoping from De Villiers would be a repeat of his 66-ball 162 he scored against West Indies in the 50-over World Cup last year in Sydney. But his record in T20s isn’t noteworthy against the Caribbean outfit. In six matches he has scored just 88 runs with a highest score of 25. De Villiers’ statistics for South Africa in T20 are not that impressive unlike in the IPL. He averages 36.71 and has a strike rate of around 144 in the IPL but it takes a sharp nosedive while playing in national colours with figures reading 23.47and 132.08 respectively.
It remains to be seen what kind of a pitch is put out and whether it allows the two a chance to express themselves freely.