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On the eve of quite possibly the most important World Cup match for Bangladesh, cricket weather man looks at the darkening clouds and hoists a warning flag. Bangladesh needs to batten down the hatches and weather this storm.

Storm front warning: Gayle approaching

Published: 1st March, 2011

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Once a commentator warned that crowds should wear a helmet to come to watch Chris Gayle bat. And he is right. Chris Gayle doesn’t play cricket. He plays baseball. He hits homeruns with hard cricket balls. And with 19 ODI centuries under his belt, he has hit plenty of them.  Playing for Western Warriors in KFC Big Bash T20 and after dispatching Shahid Afridi for two sixes to the construction zone , the crowd was   booing him for hitting a boundary on the third ball failing to clear the rope. In Tests, he is the fourth man in history to have secured two triple centuries after Sir Donald Bradman, Lara and Sehwag.  And since he is of the same breed, Bangladesh will have to do well to contain him lest he becomes another Sehwag taking away the game from the hosts before it even starts.

Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle
His impressive statistics speaks volume. Add to it his newfound resolution to emulate Tendulkar’s 200 innings (that too in the World Cup)- and you got the perfect villain.  Eyes as cool and calm like that of the vortex, the onus is on the Bangladeshis to spearhead an attack on the Cyclops.  So what answer do the hosts really have?

The seamers have plenty to think about, and Rubel, although lethal with the old ball, lest struggle with his line and length, will only hasten Gayle’s bucket list priorities. Shafiul may have fetched four wickets in the host’s previous match against Ireland , but it’s Roach’s hat-trick that is the water cooler talk.

And since it’s the World Cup where overachiever’s galore, Roach announced to the press about their superiority over the Tigers.  Setting aside the niggling concerns about his ability to bowl fuller straight on delivery with accuracy that earned him 6/27, Bangladeshi selectors will have to worry on their own pace sensation. While Shafiul has made great strides with slower ball variations,  Ian Pont has repeatedly given testimony to Nazmul’s hard work ethic along consistent line and length . The board has to decide if Nazmul will be the worth a shot as a substitute for the wayward Rubel .

However, let’s us look at Gayle’s rapsheet against Bangladesh and check how the numbers stack up. From 2002 to 2007 he has played 9 ODI matches against the Tigers and managed to score 1 century that of 104 not out in Jaipur in 2006. Two years before that he missed out on a century before former wicketkeeper Khaled Masud Pilot got the better of his nerves taking a catch off Tapash Baisya’s bowling. Out of the 6 times he got caught out 4 of them were by Khaled Masud. The man has flaws alright;  the very agro-like tendency to slash at every balls can lead to his downfall.  Gone may be old timers of Tapash and Pilot, newly generated pacers are cranking the speed gun to 140s. Going back to the statistics, he was run out only once. The other oddity would be being trapped by Syed Rasel for LBW in Bridgetown at World Cup 2007. Rasel also dismissed him in the T20 tournament in South Africa, where he scored a duck. 

Career averages

Span

Mat

Inns

NO

Runs

HS

Ave

BF

SR

100

50

0

4s

6s

unfiltered

1999-2011

225

220

15

7999

153*

39.01

9567

83.61

19

43

21

930

168

Profile

filtered

2002-2007

9

9

1

343

104*

42.87

499

68.73

1

2

2

37

3


Innings by innings list

Runs

Mins

BF

4s

6s

SR

Pos

Dismissal

Inns

 

Opposition

Ground

Start Date

38

105

70

5

0

54.28

1

run out

1

v Bangladesh

Chittagong

29 Nov 2002

ODI # 1904

21

50

43

3

0

48.83

1

caught

1

v Bangladesh

Dhaka

2 Dec 2002

ODI # 1909

73

125

90

11

0

81.11

1

caught

1

v Bangladesh

Dhaka

3 Dec 2002

ODI # 1910

0

22

5

0

0

0.00

2

caught

1

v Bangladesh

Benoni

18 Feb 2003

ODI # 1956

0

9

8

0

0

0.00

1

caught

2

v Bangladesh

Kingstown

15 May 2004

ODI # 2128

7

25

22

1

0

31.81

1

caught

1

v Bangladesh

Kingstown

16 May 2004

ODI # 2129

99

173

132

6

0

75.00

1

caught

1

v Bangladesh

Southampton

15 Sep 2004

ODI # 2175

104*

132

118

11

3

88.13

1

not out

2

v Bangladesh

Jaipur

11 Oct 2006

ODI # 2426

1

17

11

0

0

9.09

1

lbw

1

v Bangladesh

Bridgetown

19 Apr 2007

ODI # 2576

Source: CricInfo

So what solution will the Bangladeshis have for Gayle whom they will encounter after four years? Element of surprise. The very fear of unknowns: playing in unknown conditions in terms of pitch and stadium atmosphere coupled with the newly evolved spin department from Shakib, Razzak et Co. 

To proceed with a pseudo winning combination, it also calls for Ashraful’s inclusion whose experience with the ins and outs of Windies bowling attack that he took apart in Johannesburg T20 match with a 20-ball 50 knocking them out of the tournament. Afterall, if allowed to continue his natural game in the sweet slot of #7, Powerplay position, he will be a much better prospect than Mahmudullah, despite failing to dazzle in the Ireland match.

Gayle, who made his desire of being the Number 1 Allrounder in 2011 World Cup known, also have 156 wickets in 223 matches and best figures of 5/46 and the right arm offie will be a reasonable threat.  And for all the die hard fans of Bangladesh, who has by now seen the all too familiar script, of explosive openings, sudden collapse, failure to make opening stands by rotating strikes, then a denoument by not capitalizing on Powerplay posting  a low total to end, needs to negate each and every abovementioned glitches. Bowlers will have to connect the dots for the bigger picture of miserly economy even if it means drinking mana for inspiration from adversaries ex-player Cameron Cuffy who holds the distinction for being awareded the man of the match in ODI without scoring a run, taking a wicket or getting catches but solely from bowling a tight economy of 10-2-20-0.

Before we get carried away with the apotheosis of our supervillain, it is perhaps prudent to bear in mind the great shadow casted may not necessarily be that of a monster but of a small creature under different light.  Because when the light breaks at dawn on March 4th, with thousands of spectators streaming in the Mirpur stadium for another electrifying day and night event and already having got a taste of the prey, mass consciousness will take over where anything can happen.

 

About the author(s): Having graced the forum behind the dramatis personae of Gopal Bhar, Zeeshan now chiefly lurks here for nearby free iftar locations ie when not contemplating about Gödel, Escher and Bach or other meta-mathematical themes. He is also the author of "Collected Writings on Cricket".

 

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