It’s now or never for Chris Gayle. The living legend of Twenty20 cricket is yet to fire in the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) and defending champions Rangpur Riders need him to deliver on the big occasion as they take on Dhaka Dynamites in their do-or-die affair at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNCS) on Wednesday.
Riders will take on Dynamites in second qualifier at SBNS to have yet another shot at the final after Comilla Victorians whacked Rangpur Riders by 8 wickets to seal a spot in the BPL final at the first attempt on Monday.
Riders hoped for a Gayle-storm in the most crucial match for them after electing to bat first but the decision backfired as they were left tittering at 34 runs for 2 wickets after the first power play. Though Gayle kept his wicket intact, he was not the batsman to rip through the bowling as he used to do.
When Mahedi Hasan had Gayle caught by Thisara Perera at long-off, Gayle made 46 runs off 44 balls, hitting 6 fours and a six but it was certainly not enough to post a mammoth total on the board like it used to be in the past when the left-hander single handedly changed the course of the game on his day.
“We probably batted slowly in the first power play. It’s not like we lost too many wickets. Just 36 runs in the first six overs is not enough in this format and that too without losing wickets because every team want to en cash the opening six overs in this format,” Mashrafe told reporters and indicated that now he is looking forward to the T20 boss to deliver.
Riders never looked to get the start they would have liked and placing Rilee Rossouw down the order only indicated the defending champions were well aware of the absence of Alex Hales and AB de Villers.
“We did not had Hales and AB in our line-up so naturally we wanted to make sure we have some depth in our batting and so decided to demote Rilee down the order while it was also the reason we opted not to chase,” said Mashrafe adding that he is not losing confidence.
Dhaka Dynamites coach Khaled Mahmud Sujon said that they are aware that Gayle is not scoring enough as he is aware this will make him more determined to blaze on the big occasion.
“Chris Gayle is not playing well, it is really scary. In the previous final Gayle’s hundred brought us down. Chris Gayle is Chris Gayle. There is no comparison with him. He hits and defends according to his wish. We should not think about his batting individually,” said Sujon.
“However, we are still making plans for Chris and it is important to execute the plan. Moreover, they have lots of match winners. They have Rilee Russow who is the top run scorer of the tournament. I will say that he is someone who is capable to flourish in this condition and a game changer,” he said.
The winner will take on Comilla Victorians in the final at the same venue on February 8.