All eyes will be on Chris Gayle as he sets his foot on the Wankhede Stadium to take on the Mumbai Indians tomorrow. This will be the West Indian’s first match after his record-breaking unbeaten 175 off 66 balls against Pune Warriors on Tuesday in Bangalore.
Already the leading run-scorer in the Pepsi India Premier League with 432 runs in eight matches, Gayle’s wicket will clearly be MI’s top priority. The southpaw, who has accumulated 344 runs in fours and sixes, has been successful in instilling fear among bowlers. On most of the occasions, the big-hitting West Indian has outplayed almost every bowler.
Considering the small boundaries at the Wankhede, it will be a huge challenge for MI bowlers to negate the Gayle storm. MiD DAY spoke to a few former Mumbai captains on what measures could be adopted to stop the RCB giant.
Lalchand Rajput, who coached Mumbai Indians in the first season, said it is important to keep him away from strike. “The key is to frustrate him. Once you are successful in doing that, you can hope he throws his wicket away. Otherwise, it is very difficult to stop Gayle from exploding. The bowlers should not allow him to free his arms,” said Rajput.
Former India skipper and Mumbai stalwart Ajit Wadekar said MI can’t afford to be defensive against Gayle. “Mumbai has to attack from the first ball and hope to dismiss him within four to five overs. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to contain him. You have to get him out early. Nothing else can work,” said Wadekar.
Wadekar felt bowling an outside off-stump line without giving too much width could work. “Gayle uses a slightly heavy bat so it would be a little difficult for him to play on the off-side. He is very strong on the leg-side and in front,” he said.
Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy-winning captain Milind Rege reckoned Lasith Malinga is the only hope. “The kind of form Gayle is in, it is very difficult to stop him. He’s not slogging like other batsmen. He is playing very smart cricket; he is taking his time in the middle and waiting for the right opportunity. I think only Malinga can stop Gayle with his toe-crushers,” Rege said.
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