After Chris Gayle blasted a 63-ball 104 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) bowling coach Heath Streak on Friday hinted that they will look to get the dynamic West Indies batter back in the hut early when they take on Kings XI Punjab here.
Gayle’s whirlwind hundred, his sixth in the Indian Premier League (IPL), helped Punjab ease past Hyderabad by 15 runs at Mohali on Thursday night.
Gayle hit 11 sixes and took the best T20 bowler in the world, Rashid Khan, to the cleaners smashing the Afghanistan spinner for four consecutive sixes.
“Lot of people always ask us, the bowling coaches ‘what’s the plan’. It is very difficult for us to say because then he’ll find out. So we can’t really tell you the exact plan. He is a dangerous player,” Streak told reporters when asked about plans to contain Gayle on the eve of their Punjab game at the Eden Gardens here.
“How you start to him is very important early on. If you allow someone like Chris to get into his innings and rhythm and confidence, he is a very dangerous player. He is so powerful and backs his ability when the ball is in his zone to clear the boundary,” said the former Zimbabwe captain.
“Last night was one of many examples we have seen not just in IPL but in his career. We will be planning well for him as well as the other players,” Streak added.
Gayle was not picked in the IPL auctions initially before Punjab decided to take T20 cricket’s most successful batsman for his base price of Rs.2 crore.
Dropped for the first two games, Gayle helped Punjab beat Chennai Super Kings by notching up a 33-ball 63 before the hundred.
Streak was asked about the West Indians having a gala time in the IPL. Led by Gayle, KKR’s Andre Russell and Mumbai Indians’ Evin Lewis are in the top-10 highest run-getters so far this IPL while all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and Sunil Narine have also done well for Chennai and KKR respectively.
“They (West Indians) get bored by playing the long format of the game,” Streak said.
“A lot of them are playing all the leagues around the world, if you look at guys like Andre and Sunil (Narine) from our team and others in the tournament like (Keiron) Pollard. They play in PSL, CPL, BBL, IPL. They are becoming highly specialised in this format of the game, whereas some of the others play all the three formats of the game,” Streak said.
Coming to KKR, the hosts will also go into the game high on confidence after registering a convincing seven-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in Jaipur.
This was their second win in a row after succumbing to two back-to-back defeats.
Asked about new captain Dinesh Karthik and whether he is getting into the groove after taking over the mantle from Gautam Gambhir, KKR’s most successful captain, Streak said, ” Although he is new at IPL level and hasn’t had much experience, his leadership qualities are really good.
“He is a highly detailed person, his attention to small things is good and he has shown that even when you watch him bat. He brings that composure and reads the situation well.”
Streak lauded his under-fire pace battery for doing well in the last two games, saying as the tournament wears on they will get much better.
“If we just look at barring Sunrisers (Hyderabad), it has been tough for seamers in IPL on really good wickets.
“In the last couple of games, our seamers have been outstanding and I have been very impressed especially with young (Shivam) Mavi. He has been outstanding. Our seamers will get better and better. It’s difficult to replace someone of the calibre of Mitchell Starc but I think the guys we do have, have got the attributes.”