Expectations of Chris Gayle’s explosive stroke-play among spectators at the Sahara stadium will be high when Royal Challengers Bangalore renews its acquaintance with Pune Warriors India on Thursday.
Having lost all four of its away matches of this IPL season, RCB's 11th match on PWI’s home turf assumes significance for the visitors.
Gayle’s contribution at the crease will influence the pressure on the others in the line-up. In the event of Gayle misfiring — in keeping with T20 twists and turns — RCB still has plenty of options.
AB de Villiers’s ability to decimate any attack and Virat Kohli’s destructive form will come in handy for the visitors.
Tillekaratne Dilshan, Moises Hendriques, Saurabh Tiwary and young Mayank Agarwalare no slouches either when it comes to big hitting.
Vinay Kumar is also worth a gamble higher up the order.
Bowling is RCB’s strength. Every bowler pushed into match situations so far has performed.
PWI batsmen have to deal with five specialists primed to deliver their lines as per the script. While Vinay Kumar’s deceptive bounce can hustle opponents in any situation, Ravi Rampaul keeps batters honest with sheer pace.
Jaydev Unadkat, R.P. Singh, Muralidharan and Murali Karthik are RCB’s bowling options.
Karnataka pacer Abhimanyu Mithun and spinner K.P. Appanna await their turn.
A difficult wicket for batsmen, with the ball travelling slowly and staying low, hitting on the rise will be risky even for Gayle. PWI bowlers, though, view the West Indian in different light — as someone who single-handedly scarred them with an unbeaten 175 at the Chinnaswamy stadium.
In that match, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar went wicketless but walked away with his head high conceding just 23 runs from 24 balls, by sticking to a probing line and moving the ball away.
The Caribbean entertainer remains scary enough for others, though, and chief coach Allan Donald will need to assure them that Gayle and RCB can be tackled.