Royal Challengers Bangalore had won two matches without Chris Gayle. So intrinsic is he to the franchise’s identity that it didn’t sink in well with many. But after this match, RCB might resist giving in to the fame of the Jamaican who has been one of ‘Big Three’.
If there was a match Gayle had to bail his team out, it had to be this one.
In the three IPL matches he had played before Wednesday, Gayle had scored 1, 0 and 7. Before that in the WT20, his scores read 4, 5 and 4 after taking the tournament by storm with an unbeaten 100 off 48 balls against England.
Gayle is an impact player who doesn’t bring much to the table apart from that broad bat. In their pursuit of finding a better balance between a world-class batting order and an unremarkable bowling line-up, Gayle was the first to be sacrificed in the last two matches. RCB did great, scoring 195 and 175.
RCB were forced to break a successful opening combination of Kohli and KL Rahul to accommodate Gayle at the top. To justify this sacrifice, Gayle had to go big on Wednesday. But that was not to be. He was still at the other end when Virat Kohli almost guided Mitchell McClenaghan to Harbhajan Singh at wide slip. There was discomfort written all over Gayle by the time he faced McClenaghan, first a full delivery that he kept out, followed by a bouncer that almost took him by surprise. By the third over, Gayle had just faced three deliveries.
The only boundary Gayle could manage was because of the width offered by Tim Southee as he carved it through point. Next ball was tighter and Gayle could only spear it. Rohit Sharma was never going to drop that at any cost. That dismissal left RCB too exposed too early.