Chris Gayle, in two seasons for RCB, 2011 and 2012, has turned out in 27 matches, played 26 innings, compiled 1,341 runs, remained unconquered five times with 128 not out as the highest, at 63.85 with three centuries, 10 fifties, was twice out for a duck, slammed 102 fours and a mind-boggling 103 sixers. The two earlier seasons with Kolkata Knight Riders saw Gayle score just 463 runs.
These stats provide more than ample evidence of the West Indian’s batting prowess and how RCB have ridden on his shoulders all along. Yes, they do have Virat Kohli and A B de Villiers or the occasional flourishes from Saurabh Tiwary. But Gayle has been their batting mainstay.
RCB’s supporters have become habituated to watching Gayle send the ball soaring into the night skies with effortless ease. In terms of mere numbers, Mumbai Indians’ West Indian Kieron Pollard pales in comparison with Gayle. In three seasons, Pollard has played 44 matches and in 38 innings has remained not out on seven occasions making 639 with 64 as his highest with two fifties and has struck 50 boundaries and hammered 37 sixers.
The differences end there. But the similarity of approach to batting and the ability to pull it off is unmistakable. The two are eminently capable of giving the game a different dimension. Or even proving to be the turning in the end result.
If RCB have good support for Chris Gayle, Mumbai too aren’t devoid of it for Pollard. While Gayle has to start from scratch, Pollard, has the task of adding or building up as he comes lower down the order. With the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, skipper Ricky Ponting, Rohit Sharma and the new Aussie sensation Glenn James Maxwell, Mumbai have better reserve ammunition.
But should Gayle begin the destructive act and keep going, all of Mumbai’s reserve forces could be redundant. Remember Gayle has this tendency to flop when it matters most.
Perhaps, Mumbai will be hoping for it to happen on the morrow just as it did in the 2011 IPL final and the Champions Trophy final as well.
Where do bowlers fit in, in this scenario? Spinner Muttaiah Muralitharan for RCB could do the curtailment act, but Mumbai will miss the slinging speedster Lasith Malinga due to injury. As such, the focus will largely remain on the destructive abilities of the two West Indians and the capacity of the Lankans to destroy any batting line-up. It may be a ‘Gayle’ or a ‘Galle’ storm.