When Chris Gayle went berserk against Pune Warriors, only one man was left standing in the storm at Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday night -- Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
The Uttar Pradesh seamer, who has had a great start to his international career, has kept on impressing even in the shortest format of the game. Lack of pressure from the other end though, means that Kumar may not be getting enough wickets but his economy of 6.21 in 8 matches, sums up the respect he is getting from the opponent batsmen. In the middle of the Gayle storm in Bangalore, Kumar had conceded just eight runs from his first three overs! Amazingly tight by any standards on a perfect batting track.
"As a team it was a tough match to play but individually for me it was good. We gave away 263 runs out of which I gave only 23 runs. That was satisfying for me," he told the IPL site after the match. "(But) when Gayle bats like that nobody wants to bowl, especially on a wicket like this where the ball comes on well onto the bat. All I can say is that it's tough luck for the bowlers if he decides to bat like that."
Even after such power-hitting -- 17 massive sixes and 13 blistering boundaries -- and to top it all, carrying his bat through, Gayle was modest enough in mentioning a 'kind' word for his opponents, Pune, and especially Bhuvneshwar.
"You can't take away the fact that sometimes as a batter when you get on top of a bowler it is going to create a different scenario. Pune bowlers did well in the last couple of games, especially Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who did well in this match (also)," Gayle said.
India and Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni, on Twitter, jokingly thanked his 'stars' on being a wicket-keeper and not a bowler. Keeping in mind Gayle's whirlwind knock, he might well not have been kidding though.
Dhoni tweeted this after the innings: "Life is all about taking the right decision. Seeing Gayle bat today, I think I took the right decision being a wicketkeeper."
Former West Indies batting legend Brian Lara, who was a feared opponent himself, too, was all praise for the knock. "I like that one wen "Gayle bats fielders become spectators and spectators become fielders" chilling @ home watching some awesome hitting."
All that Gayle himself could say about the knock was: "It was one of those days. It was a good wicket and we needed a good total."
Indeed! Just a good total. If chasing 264 becomes a norm, this innings of Gayle will definitely be remembered as the turning point in the history of the shortest version of the game. But the team man that Gayle is, he shared the accolades with his co-players.
"You know how quickly these games can change. I wanted to stay there till the end, at least 18 overs, if not all, which I did. AB (De Villiers) came in and did a magnificent job for the team to put us in great position," he said.
Bhuvneshwar, on the other hand, talked about how team strategies were blasted away in a 'Tsunami mixed with a nuclear bomb' as tweeted by Gayle's teammate, Darren Sammy.
"During the first strategic timeout we spoke of getting him out as soon as possible. But we couldn't do that. We could have bowled better but then you never know. We tried to do different things but he just kept hitting. Ishwar Pandey was playing his first match in this tournament and he went for 21 runs in the first over, and he obviously became nervous. It happens when you're playing against Gayle."
Warriors now have four points from eight games and are lying 8th with worst net run rate among all nine teams: - 1.467. After shocking Chennai Super Kings in their 'den', Pune would have harboured high hopes. And three games down - two lost due to lack of intensity and 'killing' attitude and one due to Gayle - they are again staring down the barrel. Even Bhuvneshwar acknowledges the fact: "It is very difficult (to recover from an assault like this), especially for us as we are going through a tough time."