Bengaluru: Hundreds of die-hard fans of Chris Gayle, the dashing opener of host team Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), were shocked to learn that their hero would not play against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Wednesday night in the IPL-8 tie at the Chinnaswamy stadium here.
When the team for the game was announced after the toss and the names were displayed on the giant screen, omission of the West Indian southpaw was received with disbelief, as it meant fans would miss his mighty sixes and fours on the home turf.
“I can’t believe Gayle is not playing this time. It’s true he has not been in good form and didn’t score much in the last two games against Mumbai Indians and Sunrisers Hyderabad. But he was a match-winner in the first game this season against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 11 in Kolkata where he scored a scintillating 96 off 56 balls with seven sixes and seven fours,” M.N. Shastri, a government official, told IANS.
The Jamaican made 10 in 24 balls against Mumbai on April 19, without a six or a four, and 21 in 16 balls against Sunrisers on April 13 with three fours and one six.
Though the team also dropped bowlers Abu Nechim and Varun Aaron from the final 11, no explanation was given by the team management about dropping Gayle for the first time in a home game.
Interestingly, many fans have started rooting for AB de Villiers, who played a cameo innings against Mumbai, hitting 41 in just 11 balls with three sixes and five fours and led his South African team to semi-finals in the recent World Cup series in New Zealand.
Making three changes in the team, RCB brought in Sarfaraz Khan, Harshal Patel and Aussie speedster Mitchell Starc, who was Man of the Tournament in the World Cup for his record 22 wickets at an average of 10.18 runs.