IPL 2016 news May 9, 2016

Gayle 'dropped', not rested - Kohli

ESPNcricinfo staff

Chris Gayle has scored eight runs in three innings for Royal Challengers Bangalore so far this season © BCCI

Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, has clarified that Chris Gayle was dropped, and not rested as was initially assumed, for their home game against Rising Pune Supergiants on Saturday.

Gayle, who missed four games because of the birth of his first child in Jamaica, returned to Bangalore on April 25, but has featured in just one game since, against Kolkata Knight Riders on May 2. KL Rahul, who has been promoted to open with Kohli, has recorded scores of 51, 51*, 52 and 38 in the interim.

"No, Gayle wasn't rested, we chose Travis Head in his place," Kohli said after the seven-wicket win against Supergiants. "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 (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 also confirmed there were no injury concerns to Sarfaraz Khan, and that the batsman had been left out on fitness grounds. Sarfaraz has not been part of the playing XI for the last three games, with the team management preferring Kerala batsman Sachin Baby instead. Sarfaraz has played five matches this season and scored 66 runs but has not batted higher than No. 5 in the line-up so far.

"He (Sarfaraz) understands the areas he needs to work on as far as fitness and fielding is concerned," Kohli explained. "We understand that the position he plays at, he is unlikely to get more than 10-15 balls to play. You can't afford to have too many guys on the field who are not up to the mark with their speed.

"The format is fast and you need guys who are fit and can get to the ball quickly to save you five-six runs. He understands that. Sachin (Baby) in that aspect is committed, fit and works on those things. So it is a matter of who is working hard on all three aspects of the game. If you are not a bowler, then you need to be up with your fielding and batting. Me as captain will go with a player who gives me 120% on the field, and is committed to every ball that he fields."