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In managing to keep Chris Gayle quiet for five consecutive ODIs, Bangladesh went a long way to ensuring West Indies' downfall in the series
December 9, 2012
News : Excitement causes confused conclusion
Features : The battles Bangladesh fought to win
News : 'We deserved to win this ODI series' - Mushfiqur
Report : Bangladesh hold nerve to win series
Matches: Bangladesh v West Indies at Dhaka
Series/Tournaments: West Indies tour of Bangladesh
When Chris Gayle doesn't score, the rest of the West Indies batting line-up has to do the extra bit to make up for the runs and the scoring rate. But the opener's repeated failures have had another effect on this tour. For a bowling attack like Bangladesh's, getting him out cheaply is almost like winning half the match and that is exactly how his dismissals were treated. It eventually became the major reason that an in-form West Indies team lost the series.
Gayle totalled just 72 runs in the five games of the ODI series, only the third time in his career that his aggregate in a five-match series has been less than 100 runs. The common thread has also been West Indies losing all three series, the others coming against New Zealand in 2006 and Australia in 2010 where they lost 4-1 and 4-0 respectively.
Getting him out early was one of Bangladesh's biggest challenges in the series, alongside their battle against the fast, short-pitched ball. It was always going to be important to keep Gayle quiet from the onset but that is not how it started. In the Test series, Gayle began with a six over long-on from debutant offspinner Sohag Gazi's first ball - the opening delivery of the match. He hit one more in the same over and appeared to be extra aggressive in a bid to remove the spinner from the attack. But captain Mushfiqur Rahim asked Gazi to keep bowling, keep flighting the ball, while having straight, deep fielders in place, where Gayle holed out after a few overs. He repeated the dose in the second innings but for the second Test in Khulna, Gayle became more circumspect against Gazi.
The one-day series was where it was expected that he would come into his own but again Gazi had the better of him. Tamim Iqbal's superb catch on the long-on boundary ended what would be Gayle's best knock of the series, 35 in Khulna in the first ODI. Mashrafe Mortaza then had his wicket in the next three games before Nasir Hossain and Shafiul Islam combined to end his ODI series with another low score.
The manner in which he caved was new to the Bangladesh players too. After getting out to Gazi twice in the Test series, Gayle started playing out maiden overs to the offspinner. It seeped into his overall confidence, which seems to have dipped markedly since the World Twenty20. Mushfiqur said that it was the team's major success to keep him quiet, but remained wary of his threat at every point.
"I think now Gayle is not sure what to do with his batting. It is a huge achievement for us, that our plan is now a success," Mushfiqur said. "We did talk to him but not too much. We don't want to spite him into a great performance.
"I think the success was by not giving him any easy boundaries. It becomes difficult to stop great players if you give them the first 15 runs easily. So we had bowling partnerships going and we build the pressure and his batting just collapsed."
But West Indies captain Darren Sammy was not ready to blame Gayle for the series defeat. "Chris is a very experienced player and he will come back any time," he said. "The team doesn't revolve around one person. I will give credit to the Bangladesh players for the way they bowled at him throughout the series. They had a plan and stuck to it."
Sammy and Mushfiqur will face off one last time this year in the one-off Twenty20, a format that has made Gayle a superstar across the cricketing world. West Indies may need him to rediscover his belief in the hype if they are to finish off the tour in style, but Bangladesh will be sticking to their trusted plans, which have kept him quiet for his last nine innings.
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