PERTH: India are up against the enigmatic West Indies at the WACA on Friday. The question foremost in skipper MS Dhoni’s mind will be how to keep Chris Gayle, one of the fiercest batsmen in the game today, quiet?
He is one batsman who can single-handedly take the match away. And India cannot afford to lose a game if they hope to top Group B and get the right to play the fourth-placed Group A team in the quarterfinals.
India were lucky to get rid of the dangerous AB de Villiers early into the South African chase. The SA captain had fell while trying to steal a second run and his dismissal ensured that the lights went off early at the MCG.
Although Gayle is nowhere consistent or that versatile when compared to de Villiers, his 215 against Zimbabwe recently was a brutal reminder of his abilities to bludgeon bowling attack.
The strapping Jamaican left-hander has had his place in West Indies squad questioned in recent times and that has only left him charged up. Dhoni admitted that there cannot be a set plan to counter Gayle.
“Well, frankly speaking, when a batsman of that caliber is in a mood, you can’t do much because if he is hitting sixes effortlessly, you can’t set a field for him. If you bowl short, he will be put away and if you pitch it up, it will disappear into the stands. As a bowler, you will have to use variation and try to bluff the batsman into making a mistake. I believe that bowlers should try different things, if a batsman like Gayle is on fire. It’s only though variations that chances can be created. That’s where I feel the fielders will have to be at their best, because if he gives even a half-chance, you need to grab it. Otherwise batsman like Gayle will punish you for the lapses. A batsman of Gayle’s caliber cannot be kept quiet for a long period. The best way is have him back in the dressing room as soon as possible. That’s the only plan that can work against him,” Dhoni said about West Indian opener.
Over the past three games, the most noteworthy aspect from India’s perspective has been the way the bowling unit has improved. Dhoni was generous in his praise for the bowlers, saying attack had given his team a definite edge.
“As the bowling unit has been almost the same from the Test series and the Tri-Series, the bowlers have learned from their failures. They have realized that definitely something was lacking in their bowling in these conditions. The introspection by the bowlers has made them realize that they needed to have a specific plan to be more effective in these conditions and have responded really well. The most striking difference has been the discipline they have shown during the three matches and I am confident they would be as effective against the flamboyant West Indian batsmen.”
“We have to ensure that the rival batsmen do not get off to a flying start. If the batsmen are on a roll, it becomes difficult to contain them. As the pace bowlers have been effective in the opening overs, the spinners led by Ravi Ashwin and Ravi Jadeja have only got better and have tightened things in the middle overs. That is exactly how we plan to approach in the match against West Indies. So far, the response from the bowlers has been brilliant, and there has been more communication amongst them. That has helped them to become a cohesive strike unit and that’s how we want them to be going ahead in the tournament,” Dhoni said.
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