Bengaluru, May 12: The man who lit up the Indian Premier League (IPL) with his big-hitting has gone quiet this season. The "Universe Boss" Chris Gayle of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) is struggling. The silence of his bat is prompting experts and fans to ask - Is it the end?
Last night (May 11), Gayle was back in RCB's Playing XI after being dropped for 2 matches. At the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, RCB's home supporters cheered the tall Jamaican hoping to see the ball sailing into the stands. But it was not to be. RCB were beaten by Mumbai Indians (MI).
The left-handed opening batsman hit a boundary and was returned to the pavilion for just 5 runs off 6 balls. It was the 36-year-old's 4th failure in a row in IPL 2016.
Only single-digit scores
So far this season, his scores are 1, 0, 7 and 5. In between he missed 4 games due to the birth of his daughter Blush.
Gayle's form is not a worry for RCB since captain Virat Kohli has been doing the bulk of the scoring. The Bangalore team's concern is bowling. They are in danger of missing the play-offs (Currently 6th in Points Table with 8 points from 10 games). It is a must-win situation for the rest of 4 matches for them. But even then they might miss to finish in top-4.
When it comes to Twenty20, Gayle has been exceptional. From scoring 175, the highest ever individual mark in IPL to entertaining crowds with his big hits and dance moves, Gayle is the favourite. But it is not the best of times for him now.
The unthinkable happened when Gayle was dropped from RCB's game against the Rising Pune Supergiants. Kohli did not back away from saying that he had axed the big man due to lack of runs.
"No, Gayle wasn't rested, we chose Travis Head in his place. We felt we needed more solidity in the middle order. Travis strikes the ball well, KL (Rahul) and I have been opening well. Also, we thought Travis can give us a few overs of offspin if needed.
"They (Rising Pune Supergiants) had three left-handers, so we could have used him if there was a situation where one of our bowlers went for runs. He proved himself in the game against Mumbai Indians, and we all know he strikes the ball well," Kohli had said.
Not only was Gayle missing for Pune game he was warming the benches for the next contest too - against Kings XI Punjab, in Mohali. Both matches were won by RCB.
On Wednesday night (May 11), Kohli and the team management decided to recall Gayle. But there was no change in his form.
After the opening 2 games in IPL 2016, Kohli was confident that Gayle would rediscover his form.
Kohli hoping Gayle fires at some stage
"I am sure he (Gayle) will come good at some stage of the tournament. Probably, he may get a hundred for us when it's required the most. I am not too worried about Gayle, because the other guys are stepping up nicely. Cricket is all about grabbing the opportunity, if some others fail.
"Chris takes lot of pride playing for RCB. He has been a standout player for us. I think people just expect a lot out of him every T20 match he plays because he is good at it and has scored 17 centuries, which is not a joke. So, expectations are high and Gayle wants to live up to them," Kohli had said last month.
Gayle's poor form began in ICC World Twenty20, which West Indies won. Apart from a blazing 100 not out against England, on March 16, he had low scores of 4, 5 and 4. In his last 7 games (both international and IPL), Gayle has failed to cross the 10-run mark (4, 5, 4, 1, 0, 7, 5).
RCB next host Gujarat Lions at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday (May 14). Will Gayle be persisted with or left out?
With age and form not on his side, this could be the beginning of the end for the T20 legend, who has over 8,800 runs with 17 centuries in the format.