The intimidating Chris Gayle looms large in front of Mumbai Indians as they get ready to clash with table toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore in their next IPL match here at the Wankhede Stadium tomorrow.
Gayle goes into the match after smashing a record T20 individual high score of 175 not out against Pune Warriors.
The left-handed Jamaican powerhouse would be the one batsman on whom MI team think tank would be focusing on a lot.
MI have experienced the power that Gayle packs in his bat on three previous occasions, including their campaign opener at Bangalore on April 4 when he cracked a match-winning 92 off 58 balls with 11 fours and five sixes before RCB won the thriller by 2 runs.
Since switching over from Kolkata Knight Riders colours to RCB's in 2011, MI have confronted his broad blade four times and in three of those occasions his innings has been match-turning.
Gayle, who is donning the orange cap with 432 runs in eight games, scored 89 off 47 balls in qualifier 2 at Chennai in 2011 to help his side to a huge total of 180 for 4 and MI failed to overhaul it.
Last year he pulverized MI here by making an unbeaten 82 to help RCB easily overhaul their modest total of 141 for 6. The only time he has flopped against MI in RCB’s colours was when he made 6 in the next game and MI won that return leg tie at Bangalore.
In 51 IPL games, Gayle has amassed over 2200 runs at a high average of 55-plus and a fabulous strike rate of 163, with four centuries and 14 half tons in it.
He has, in all, 10 tons in T20 franchise-type cricket playing in Zimbabwe, Australia and Bangladesh – apart from in India.
Fellow-West Indian Dwayne Smith said he did not fear Gayle when queried whether he would be willing to open the bowling for MI tomorrow in the pre-game media conference.
"It's cricket. I am not afraid of him (Gayle). It takes one ball to get a batsman out. It's just a case of pitching the ball in the right area. It's for him to stay long and score runs," said Smith who scored 62 in 45 balls opening the
innings with Sachin Tendulkar in IPL’s previous game against KKR at Kolkata.
RCB’s R P Singh was of the view that Gayle needed to be dismissed early.
"Tough question (when asked what he would do as a bowler trying to stop Gayle). You have to get him out, there is no other way. If he settles down it’s difficult for the bowling side with the power he has," said Singh.