Gayle onslaught highlights unfair battles
The Chris Gayle onslaught against the Pune Warriors in the IPL broke just about every conceivable record in the shortest version of the game.
Although the Pune Warriors are weak in the bowling department and were even more bereft than normal in the match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the way Gayle struck the ball was sensational.
This type of innings makes one wonder if the balance between bat and ball is distorted. The bats have improved radically over the last few years. These days the ball travels a lot further due to the technology advances that have enabled bat makers to make bigger bats with an enlarged sweet spot.
In days gone by, batsmen were reluctant to take on fielders who patrolled the boundary. That has changed dramatically. The knowledge that even mis-hits clear the boundary has installed a new confidence in batsmen and a real intent on their behalf to dominate bowling attacks.
In India this is even more evident. The surfaces in the IPL are batting friendly as a rule. There is very little on offer for the bowlers in the sense of seam movement or swing through the air and as a rule the ball comes onto the bat perfectly. Couple this with the fact that the boundaries are short, it is easy to imagine the problem the bowlers face when trying to contain some of the biggest hitters the game has seen.
Which brings us to the second point in unfair contests.
It is particularly difficult for the Indian bowlers who are not international class when they come up against seasoned batting superstars. Most of the local bowlers are honest campaigners who will never grace the international stage. When they are confronted with someone who has the skill set of a Chris Gayle or a Kieron Pollard, the contest is almost unfair.
In international T20 cricket the result of the match can hinge on one individual performance, but the team in general still has to play well due to the fact that the players are more evenly matched as far as skill level is concerned.
In the IPL, however, there is such a divide in some cases between the ability of some of the internationals in the team and the rest of the players that one player can well and truly dominate a match and win it on his own.
The other major IPL teams will be even more afraid of the Gayle factor than they were before. They will be hoping that he doesn't repeat his last performance when the knockout phase comes around.
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