It’s not often that Chris Gayle is eclipsed. The West Indian has a larger-than-life persona not only on the pitch, but also off it. Ahead of the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League, Royal Challengers Bangalore’s top 3 of Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli were expected to take the IPL by storm.
However, so far Bangalore have been all about the exploits of two batsmen: skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.
While the former, with his classical drives through the covers, is the highest run-scorer in the season with 865 runs, the South African, with his innovative 360-degree batting, is third in the list with 597 runs. More importantly, they have often strung together partnerships to take their side to sizeable totals.
Gayle, by contrast, has only struck form in the last two matches, with scores of 73 and 49. His figures before that match made for abject reading with 19 runs in five innings.
The poor run of form even saw the Jamaican, who missed four games due to the birth of his first child, get dropped from the team for two matches against Rising Pune Supergiants and Kings XI Punjab. However, with him back in form, the Delhi Daredevils bowlers, led by their pace spearhead and skipper Zaheer Khan, will have their work cut out when the two teams face off at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh International Cricket Stadium in Naya Raipur on Sunday in what will be a virtual quarterfinal.
This has been one of the tightest seasons of the IPL. Before the Mumbai Indians vs Gujarat Lions match, as many as six teams were in contention to make it to the play-offs.
Daredevils eked out a last-ball victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad to keep their hopes of making it to the knockout stages alive this season. The hosts have been driven by their young stars like Karun Nair, who scored a match-winning 59-ball 83 against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Naya Raipur on Friday, Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant.
While South African Quinton de Kock could not do much in the last match against Hyderabad, he has been the highest run-scorer for DD this time and his partnership with Nair at the top of the order will be key to Delhi’s fortunes.