How to combat danger man Gayle?
To say that any team that plays against the Royal Challengers Bangalore would spend a lot of time discussing one man would not be a bad assumption at all.
After Chris Gayle’s blitz in Bangalore against the Pune Warriors, there will be many teams who, while they keep an eye on their more immediate games, will be watching how the big man is going and formulating a way to combat him when their turn comes.
Woe betide those that go back to the scene of the destruction, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, without a solid plan as he absolutely loves batting there and has had more success than failure with his approach when playing on that bouncy and true surface.
When one looks at the scoring wagon wheel for Chris Gayle, it is apparent that most bowlers who run up and pitch the ball up to him will disappear back over their heads and generally in the “V”.
He is so strong when hitting the ball in front of him and presents difficulty to many a seam bowler as being tall also gives him a bit of a reach advantage. There are some deliveries that many would consider towards the shorter side that he still manages to muscle away over the boundary off the front foot. He is a big and very strong man!
The ploy by the Mumbai Indians to bomb him with short stuff and allow him little or no front foot play was a very good one and it succeeded because Lasith Malinga and particularly Mitchell Johnson executed expertly. They seemed primed for battle and on edge because they knew what they were up against.
Being a home game for the Mumbai Indians, they did well to get a pitch that was pretty quick too and allowed for their fast men to dish out some chin music to the big West Indian who could not provide answers on the night.
Ian Bishop's statement that “all the seamers need to bowl a whole lot more short at Gayle” during the game in Bangalore when Gayle was going berserk, received a bit of attention and got older heads thinking about how to combat the big Jamaican.
Clearly the Mumbai Indians found their answer and will be happy that it yielded a win and two points against their name. While all the other teams may turn up with the same plan, there are other factors that influence the success or failure of the plan.
The pitch on which a team is confronted with the challenge that is Chris Gayle will be a big factor in deciding what approach to take.
Needless to say, if the bowlers run up try to bowl short and at the head without the raw pace of someone like Mitchell Johnson then they too may be dispatched to all parts of the stadium stands. It will be interesting to see if the teams that have a genuinely fast bowler in their ranks will go the same way.
The focus of others teams on the big West Indian is warranted and clearly necessary but it should allow players such as Virat Kohli, Tillakaratne Dilshan and AB de Villiers, who are fabulous players too on their day, to go under the radar a little bit.
They need to come to the fore if the Royal Challengers Bangalore are to get into those playoffs which they failed to do last year. I wonder if Chris Gayle can adjust to this line and length of attack and combat it himself? Truth be told, there aren’t many teams with the pacemen to trouble him that much.
Yes, the big man could probably get them there on his own but he sure needs a little help from his friends. It sure will be interesting to watch how it plays out; will they keep bombing him and will he adjust?