How can Chris Gayle not do the rounds when Royal Challengers Bangalore prepare for an Indian Premier League match? The Jamaican has dominated all IPL discussions on and off the pitch and although most pundits have showered him with adjectives like "super-human" and "extra-ordinary", one expert is not ready to throw in the towel just yet.
Wasim Akram feels Gayle is not the "superman" that many have made him out to be after his 66-ball 175 not out against Pune Warriors at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore last week. Writing in his column in the Times of India, the Pakistani legend, who till last year was the bowling consultant of the Kolkata Knight Riders, says Gayle was decoded by Mumbai Indians when RCB clashed with Mumbai Indians on Saturday.
RCB play Rajasthan Royals on Monday evening at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Interestingly, Bangalore have lost all three matches on the road and Akram feels Rajasthan will be "confident" that they too can check the Gayle phobia if their bowlers can pitch in the right areas.
"Rajasthan, who have done well at home, will be lot more relaxed after the Gayle myth was destroyed by Mumbai Indians. It is expected that Gayle won't be allowed to play all the games in his freestyle. Give him deliveries off the wicket and he is bound to play in a defensive manner. Against quality bowlers, he is going to have his share of problems too," Akram wrote.
But does Rajasthan have the quality in their bowlers to check Gayle? Akram is not quite sure as he feels it is Rajasthan's batting combination of Shane Watson, Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane who have to do the job against RCB. "I reckon, RCB have the better bowlers in Vinay Kumar and RP Singh, but the Rajasthan bowlers must take lessons from the Mumbai win against RCB," feels Akram.
On a batting track like Wankhede, Gayle managed to score 18 off 20 balls against a Mumbai attack comprising Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Dhawal Kulkarni and of course, Harbhajan Singh. The Jamaican continues to lead the batting charts with 450 runs from nine matches at an average of 90. He has slammed 37 fours and 35 sixes. Can Rajasthan diffuse the Gayle bomb?