IPL 2018: Force or not, Chris Gayle still in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s focus
Chris Gayle, who was let go by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2018 player auction, will return to the M Chinnaswamy stadium and Virat Kohli’s side are fully prepared for him.cricket Updated: Apr 12, 2018 21:30 IST
Stung by unfancied off-spinner Nitish Rana in their first Indian Premier League 2018 game, Royal Challengers Bangalore will hope they are not struck by familier foe Chris Gayle on Friday, though the Jamaican’s chance of playing is not too bright.
Chris Gayle played seven seasons for RCB from 2011, but the franchise felt the destroyer of rival bowling attacks was no longer the same force, instead leaving Kings XI Punjab to buy him in the auction as a late pick.
KXIP didn’t field Gayle in the opening win over Delhi Daredevils, where KL Rahul smashed the fastest IPL fifty off 14 balls. He is likely to open with Australian Aaron Finch, back after missing the Mohali game due to his wedding.
Gayle, 38, though returns to the M Chinnaswamy Stadium with a point to prove, in front of fans who adore him. He has played 85 matches for RCB in IPL, scoring over 3,000 runs. His IPL strike rate is a brilliant 151.20.
GAYLE, RAHUL RETURN
RCB coach Daniel Vettori did not see Gayle playing on Friday in his team’s homecoming, but acknowledged the potential of the Caribbean batsman and that of Rahul, who was also let go.
“We probably won’t anticipate playing against Chris tomorrow with the way they set their team up in the first game and with Finch coming back,” Vettori said at a media interaction on Thursday.
“But if he does – if any team knows how good he is, that is RCB, and what he has done for the team for a number of years. We are fully aware of his strengths and how we can handle him. KL is obviously in fantastic form in the first game and he knows these conditions. He missed all last year for us, and it was sad not to see him perform (play at all due to shoulder injury), but he has gone away to Kings XI and started exceptionally well.
“Once again, two Karnataka boys from different places, but guys who know the wicket well. Hopefully we can tackle them well if they do get going.”
TURN FOR WORSE
The former New Zealand skipper blamed the loss to KKR on the spin factor.
While Nitish Rana dismissed AB de Villiers and RCB skipper Virat Kohli off successive deliveries to derail the batting momentum, their main spinner Sunil Narine blasted 50 as pinch-hitting opener. RCB leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and young off-spinner, Washington Sundar, then could not make it count in the KKR chase.
“Losing AB and Virat in two balls, we didn’t launch after that. And I don’t think we bowled particularly well to Sunil Narine. We went away from our plans a little bit.
“It was a really good performance but obviously a really good performance was not good enough. “Once again, it was the way we bowled to Narine we were disappointed with. Washington didn’t bowl as well to him and Chahal as well.”
Injuries to Kohli, de Villiers and Rahul hurt RCB in IPL 2017 as they finished last in the league table. “We look at this as a fresh season, hopefully no one is tarnished with the baggage of last year and we go in with our eyes wide open,” he said.