Bangladesh v WI, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur March 25, 2014

The high-risk game

West Indies invest heavily on the Chris Gayle method in T20s, but the day it fails, it could leave the team in a spot of bother
25

Chris Gayle is the king of Twenty20. His sheer presence under a helmet with bat in hand is intimidating for most bowlers. He can obviously intimidate with his tremendous six-hitting ability. He can also intimidate with what he does not do. He does not change his expression, whether he is on 15 off 30 or 30 off 15. It remains the same if he hits three successive sixes or plays three successive dots.

He has also developed this method of going slow at the start, leaving the opposition even more anxious about what is going to come next. Often, it is carnage. If he is around by the tenth over, and hasn't done much, the bowling side is not doing anything wrong if it expects the worst for the last ten. This method has worked for Gayle throughout the world in the numerous T20 competitions. He takes huge risk in an already risky format, and backs himself to get proportionate returns. That he often does generate those returns shows his pedigree in the format.

Risk is risk after all, though. And the magnified risk that Gayle's method involves means he needs someone to mitigate that risk, to temper it to a more manageable proposition. Dwayne Smith was the answer this night. Marlon Samuels was the answer in the 2012 World T20 final. There was no answer against the Indians two nights ago.

Smith pottered to 11 off 29 against India. He made 72 off 43 against Bangladesh. It was a terrific innings on a pitch almost every other batsman from both sides found difficult to score on. He pulled and swept ferociously and kept hitting boundaries, especially against spin, even as Gayle plodded on. Smith hit 10 of West Indies' 17 fours, and three of their five sixes.

Smith has his on days and his off days, with usually no middle path. On the former, he is a runaway train which runs over everything in its path. On the latter, his inertia is broken by his own downfall. Tonight he was on. Against India he was off. More risk.

The point is all these elements of risk could hurt West Indies badly in a crunch game, in conditions that are not going to get any easier for their hitters who would much rather prefer to have the ball coming on. It has already happened against India, who did not provide any leeway for West Indies to push on from a slow start. Their fast bowlers got the new ball to dart around, and their spinners then took over in helpful conditions. Fortunately for West Indies, it was their opening game in the tournament, and not a must-win one. Even more fortunately for them, Bangladesh then produced an apologetic performance on the field. How many times will you see successive deliveries go for four byes each, or the same fielder dropping catches off successive balls?

When asked if it was team strategy for him to go after the new ball while Gayle played himself in, Smith said that if he made runs, Gayle would be free to do what he was doing. "I don't know if it is a strategy or not," Smith said. "My aim is to get off to a good start and that's how I play. It's just for me to keep scoring and if Chris is working himself in, at least there won't be pressure on him if I am scoring freely."

Of course, the pitch was not easy to accelerate on. And even Gayle ideally would not take so much risk that he reaches a strike-rate of 100 only in the 18th over. It was probably one of those days where it just did not come off for him. It can happen to the best of batsmen. There can be a case that you have invested so much in your build-up that you then do not feel like throwing it away. And before you know it, the end of the innings is approaching. Seeing what we have from Gayle in the past, it is unlikely this approach will not pay off for him in some game in this tournament. Smith was confident about that.

"I am sure that Chris would get the runs at some point of time in this tournament because he has been batting through the first six, he has been batting to ten 10 overs. I am sure that at some point, he is going to get off to a good start, get some good scores."

Again, the point is, this approach could also pull West Indies down to the point of no return. It is high risk after all. There are always two sides to it.

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ani.. on March 26, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    This at least is a better alternative for west indies cricket. He can go to single taking mode, with some boundaries in between, just like a normal batsman while Dwayne Smith is keeping the team on a good score. Dwayne can be the aggressor while Gayle can bide his time. And if Dwayne gets out then Gayle can be the aggressor. But this can also pose high risk if Dwayne smith gets out early or is scratchy then Gayle settling down will slow down the run rate and he will buckle down under pressure and get out to a big shot. This risk was exploited in the match against India

  • on March 26, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    This is the perfect strategy for West Indies. Cricket strategies should be studied and played like Chess. Gayle is the most valuable player on the team, so he should not be taking the risk. Let smith have a go and Gayle's presence will inspire confidence in the him and others to follow. Samuel should also be treated on Gayle's level. WI flawed against Indian and they improved against Bangladesh, but we need to come off the block flying and that should be Smith's job, followed by Andre Russell, and Sammy. Brave, Samuel, Gayle, and Simmons are the anchors.

  • on March 26, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Even if we take match fixing out lets talk about to indian team west ind and ind, india are only winning games because there middle order batsmen dint got any chance to perform. India have chased both matches in 19th and 20th overs so not good from any means, indian batting will be tested if they bat first where dhoni is insecure to do so. Dhoni likes to chase and they know they cant not defend any total, if Bangladesh and aus bat first and score 160 india wont be able to chase.

    Now as far west IND is concerned they have no chance to beat pak and aus, as both of these teams will go for a kill

  • Rajesh.Kumar on March 26, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    I have the gut feeling that after yesterday's performance, WI have picked up momentum. I expect them to defeat Aus and Pakistan quite easily. Aussies are bad players of spin, so they don't stand a chance against the likes of Badree and Narine. Pakistani batsmen are basically club level batters, so WI will defeat them quite easily. I suspect that WI and India will be in the semi finals.

  • on March 26, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    Honestly, I am expecting this group will become wide open. Aus are very powerful and were only denied by Pakistans supreme talent in bowling, Ind doesnt have this luxury and will be beaten by Aussies. India also didnt win by a good run rate against West Indies or Pak when chasing only 130 and Pakistan still have a chance to improve their NNR wth relativey weaker teams like Bang and WI. I expect Aussies also to hammer West Indies as their batting could smash the weak W.Indies bowling. Also Pak play West Indies in the last group game and would know the exact equation so I tip Pak and Aus to quaify for Semis ie which is normally what happens ie Pak lose to Inda but still end up in Semis at their expense

  • on March 26, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    BD paid too much attention on gayle.so i think thats another reason gayle couldn't open his arm.looked like BD didn't have any other plan than restricting Gayle.

  • kamran.afzal on March 26, 2014, 7:33 GMT

    Interesting point by Ricardo; as I remember how in the 90s, the Indian team won and lost with Tendulkar... while Tendulkar was at the crease (or about to come), all was well... players were confident; supporters relaxed... but as soon as he got out, chaos set in... Gayle probably doesn't hold that kind of a role in this lineup, but his presence can definitely be assuring for the team...

  • Srini_Indian on March 26, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    I do feel this is the right strategy. WI have too many hitters and within couple of overs, they can turn it on. Gayle's presence is invaluable and as the tournament progresses, Gayle will get into his groove.

  • on March 26, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    My problem with Gayle is not that he took 48 balls to make 48 runs, my problem is the guy is so lazy, he trots between the wicket, he very seldom runs 2 runs, even when it an easy 3, his demeanor sends a message that he doesn`t want to be there, surely that is not good for the team.

  • on March 26, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    SInce it was Bangladesh , Gayle managed to play these many balls and reach a strike rate of 100. If it were against AUS or PAK, he would have perished in the first few overs. His records in crunch games or finals are as good as Tendulkar's..

  • ani.. on March 26, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    This at least is a better alternative for west indies cricket. He can go to single taking mode, with some boundaries in between, just like a normal batsman while Dwayne Smith is keeping the team on a good score. Dwayne can be the aggressor while Gayle can bide his time. And if Dwayne gets out then Gayle can be the aggressor. But this can also pose high risk if Dwayne smith gets out early or is scratchy then Gayle settling down will slow down the run rate and he will buckle down under pressure and get out to a big shot. This risk was exploited in the match against India

  • on March 26, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    This is the perfect strategy for West Indies. Cricket strategies should be studied and played like Chess. Gayle is the most valuable player on the team, so he should not be taking the risk. Let smith have a go and Gayle's presence will inspire confidence in the him and others to follow. Samuel should also be treated on Gayle's level. WI flawed against Indian and they improved against Bangladesh, but we need to come off the block flying and that should be Smith's job, followed by Andre Russell, and Sammy. Brave, Samuel, Gayle, and Simmons are the anchors.

  • on March 26, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    Even if we take match fixing out lets talk about to indian team west ind and ind, india are only winning games because there middle order batsmen dint got any chance to perform. India have chased both matches in 19th and 20th overs so not good from any means, indian batting will be tested if they bat first where dhoni is insecure to do so. Dhoni likes to chase and they know they cant not defend any total, if Bangladesh and aus bat first and score 160 india wont be able to chase.

    Now as far west IND is concerned they have no chance to beat pak and aus, as both of these teams will go for a kill

  • Rajesh.Kumar on March 26, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    I have the gut feeling that after yesterday's performance, WI have picked up momentum. I expect them to defeat Aus and Pakistan quite easily. Aussies are bad players of spin, so they don't stand a chance against the likes of Badree and Narine. Pakistani batsmen are basically club level batters, so WI will defeat them quite easily. I suspect that WI and India will be in the semi finals.

  • on March 26, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    Honestly, I am expecting this group will become wide open. Aus are very powerful and were only denied by Pakistans supreme talent in bowling, Ind doesnt have this luxury and will be beaten by Aussies. India also didnt win by a good run rate against West Indies or Pak when chasing only 130 and Pakistan still have a chance to improve their NNR wth relativey weaker teams like Bang and WI. I expect Aussies also to hammer West Indies as their batting could smash the weak W.Indies bowling. Also Pak play West Indies in the last group game and would know the exact equation so I tip Pak and Aus to quaify for Semis ie which is normally what happens ie Pak lose to Inda but still end up in Semis at their expense

  • on March 26, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    BD paid too much attention on gayle.so i think thats another reason gayle couldn't open his arm.looked like BD didn't have any other plan than restricting Gayle.

  • kamran.afzal on March 26, 2014, 7:33 GMT

    Interesting point by Ricardo; as I remember how in the 90s, the Indian team won and lost with Tendulkar... while Tendulkar was at the crease (or about to come), all was well... players were confident; supporters relaxed... but as soon as he got out, chaos set in... Gayle probably doesn't hold that kind of a role in this lineup, but his presence can definitely be assuring for the team...

  • Srini_Indian on March 26, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    I do feel this is the right strategy. WI have too many hitters and within couple of overs, they can turn it on. Gayle's presence is invaluable and as the tournament progresses, Gayle will get into his groove.

  • on March 26, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    My problem with Gayle is not that he took 48 balls to make 48 runs, my problem is the guy is so lazy, he trots between the wicket, he very seldom runs 2 runs, even when it an easy 3, his demeanor sends a message that he doesn`t want to be there, surely that is not good for the team.

  • on March 26, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    SInce it was Bangladesh , Gayle managed to play these many balls and reach a strike rate of 100. If it were against AUS or PAK, he would have perished in the first few overs. His records in crunch games or finals are as good as Tendulkar's..

  • ITJOBSUCKS on March 26, 2014, 5:47 GMT

    @Rohit You are absolutely wrong mate!!! If WI can beat Aus on friday before India's game against Ban, then India will have to win only "1" match out of 2!!! Other semi-finalist will be decided by the winner of PAK v/s WI!!!

  • RibhavBansal on March 26, 2014, 5:21 GMT

    I just cannot fathom how everyone is okay with Gayle scoring slowly, in the IPL, he goes hammer and tongs from the first ball, that is why he is successful there, is it because the Windies board is not paying him as much as Mallya? Come IPL, even Pollard will be fit or will play through injury, Bravo who has scored consecutive ducks will score crucial vital runs for CSK. Where do these people disappear when they play for Windies?

  • Test_nut on March 26, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    @Rohit: What, pray tell, is the point of your comment in relation to the article? The article is about the conundrum the West Indies face by having an explosive game-changer who is a slow starter up the order and how best to tackle it. Even the "Gayle Rocks" comment, whilst not insightful, is at least relevant (he does rock, by the way).Perhaps an opportunistic time to extoll the virtues of Indian cricket and tell us all about the permutations for remaining group games. Don't worry, we all know the rules, we can all figure out the permutations all on our own. p.s. Dale Steyn is the best fast bowler in the world. Seeā€¦irrelevant and pointless, no matter how true.

  • Rohit... on March 26, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    This Huge Margin of win made India's case very clear... India now only need to defeat Australia to qualify without any fear... 1. If India defeats Australia, then India will have win-loss ratio as 4-0 or 3-1... 2.Australia will be out of the race if India beats Oz as they are already beaten by Pakistan... Thus they will have 2 losses and cannot ouster India... 3.Both Pakistan & WI are beaten by India... So, the loser of the clash between Pakistan & WI will be out with 2 losses in their account... 4.If Bangladesh goes on to win every matches from here on, then they automatically qualify India along with themselves... All eyes will be on the high profile clash between India-Oz on Sunday.

  • on March 26, 2014, 3:49 GMT

    Sachin is one player who used to decide himself on how heavy his bat should be. Ganguly once said in a interview that during a tour to Australia, Sachin borrowed some of his old bats to take the wood and attach it to his bat to make it heavier and did it himself. I have also seen a pic of sachin doing a carpentry work on his bat... Kohli is in right path...

  • VinothSam on March 26, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    Gayle is good enough only for IPL matches not for ICC matches. I wonder how he gets lucky and finds his best innings in ICC matches whereas he always gets his best innings in all IPL matches. Gayle please.

  • mpva on March 26, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    From WI point of view, they would rather have Gayle score run a ball for whole 20 overs ! His presence unsettles opposition captain and bowlers as they know any over can go for 20+

  • on March 26, 2014, 0:52 GMT

    every team have different styles and capabilities of putting runs on the board..west Indies have the best line up of players in the tourney..they will pull it together and bring back the trophy back to the Caribbean

  • on March 25, 2014, 23:40 GMT

    Somehow I get the feeling Gayle is not 100% fit. There was lethargy in his running and the alertness to pick loose balls ( by his standards) were totally missing. Though he scored runs in both the matches the Gayle class wasn't there. Smith learnt a lot from the India game and played to his strength in this one. If Gayle can't play his natural game he should hit out to make way for other hitters to spend time in the middle.

  • WiseObserver on March 25, 2014, 22:50 GMT

    Gayle rocks!!! There is no comparable batsman wit similar talent in present day cricket world for T20...

  • JoshFromJamRock on March 25, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    As much as I'm proud that Samuels (a fellow Jamaican) is playing in the side He needs to realize that his selfish mentality isn't doing the team any good. A lot of commentators and writers are finally realizing that his exploits in the 2012 WC final was a fluke. He struggles to rotate the strike, He struggles to find boundaries. He's clueless against spin and haphazard against pace. In a group with 3 other spin dominant teams, he's not worth his place batsman but as a bowler, hence he should bat with the bowlers at #7. No wonder he has been involved with so many run-outs when runs have dried up. Most importantly he totally kills whatever momentum was built by the openers. I can see the coaching staff are realizing this and hence they sent Simmons ahead of him in the match. Trust me if Bravo or Sammy was sent ahead of him also West Indies, not could of, but would have scored well over 180 especially with Bangladesh being so bad in the field.

  • on March 25, 2014, 21:26 GMT

    westindies all the way winning is our aim no one knows how a game will play out before its played and we have 11 players all playing for one another so we should be ok in the end

  • on March 25, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    WI is still playing with bits and pieces players. They got away with a mediocre side like Bangladesh. I dont see these approach of Russell, Sammy, Bravo as the front line bowlers helping them to win against Pakistan or Australia. I have a feeling it will be INdia and Pakistan which will qualify from this group.

  • steve48 on March 25, 2014, 20:45 GMT

    This is a good article, pointing out that Gayle basically takes on the role of not just the main man, but the only man! He doesn't play quality bowling well, nor does he rotate strike or run hard twos and threes. What you are left with is a man who could just as easily cost you a game as win it, at this level. Sure in the IPL, BPL etc, there will be enough average bowling for him to do his thing, but that is essentially what he is, a destroyer of average bowling, rarely anything more. Of course, I am not expecting him to slaughter Steyn, Malinga and co, but a bit more urgency in running and placement would make me much more respectful of his batting.

  • WAiWiA on March 25, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    Well, to be honest, Chris Gayle is not the only hitter in the west indies side. He is magnificent when he is flowing; but the reality is that not all his innings are going to be big ones. Dwayne Smith is the perfect opening partner for someone like Gayle. I personally feel that Andre Russell's talents are being wasted so low down the order. He is on the same par as Glen Maxwell and is capable of accelerating from the first ball. He needs some encouragement and needs to be used strategically by West Indies; maybe move him up the order to intercept the 15th over, so that when Gaylestorm strikes, the effect continues into the end overs.

  • WAiWiA on March 25, 2014, 19:57 GMT

    Well, to be honest, Chris Gayle is not the only hitter in the west indies side. He is magnificent when he is flowing; but the reality is that not all his innings are going to be big ones. Dwayne Smith is the perfect opening partner for someone like Gayle. I personally feel that Andre Russell's talents are being wasted so low down the order. He is on the same par as Glen Maxwell and is capable of accelerating from the first ball. He needs some encouragement and needs to be used strategically by West Indies; maybe move him up the order to intercept the 15th over, so that when Gaylestorm strikes, the effect continues into the end overs.

  • steve48 on March 25, 2014, 20:45 GMT

    This is a good article, pointing out that Gayle basically takes on the role of not just the main man, but the only man! He doesn't play quality bowling well, nor does he rotate strike or run hard twos and threes. What you are left with is a man who could just as easily cost you a game as win it, at this level. Sure in the IPL, BPL etc, there will be enough average bowling for him to do his thing, but that is essentially what he is, a destroyer of average bowling, rarely anything more. Of course, I am not expecting him to slaughter Steyn, Malinga and co, but a bit more urgency in running and placement would make me much more respectful of his batting.

  • on March 25, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    WI is still playing with bits and pieces players. They got away with a mediocre side like Bangladesh. I dont see these approach of Russell, Sammy, Bravo as the front line bowlers helping them to win against Pakistan or Australia. I have a feeling it will be INdia and Pakistan which will qualify from this group.

  • on March 25, 2014, 21:26 GMT

    westindies all the way winning is our aim no one knows how a game will play out before its played and we have 11 players all playing for one another so we should be ok in the end

  • JoshFromJamRock on March 25, 2014, 22:09 GMT

    As much as I'm proud that Samuels (a fellow Jamaican) is playing in the side He needs to realize that his selfish mentality isn't doing the team any good. A lot of commentators and writers are finally realizing that his exploits in the 2012 WC final was a fluke. He struggles to rotate the strike, He struggles to find boundaries. He's clueless against spin and haphazard against pace. In a group with 3 other spin dominant teams, he's not worth his place batsman but as a bowler, hence he should bat with the bowlers at #7. No wonder he has been involved with so many run-outs when runs have dried up. Most importantly he totally kills whatever momentum was built by the openers. I can see the coaching staff are realizing this and hence they sent Simmons ahead of him in the match. Trust me if Bravo or Sammy was sent ahead of him also West Indies, not could of, but would have scored well over 180 especially with Bangladesh being so bad in the field.

  • WiseObserver on March 25, 2014, 22:50 GMT

    Gayle rocks!!! There is no comparable batsman wit similar talent in present day cricket world for T20...

  • on March 25, 2014, 23:40 GMT

    Somehow I get the feeling Gayle is not 100% fit. There was lethargy in his running and the alertness to pick loose balls ( by his standards) were totally missing. Though he scored runs in both the matches the Gayle class wasn't there. Smith learnt a lot from the India game and played to his strength in this one. If Gayle can't play his natural game he should hit out to make way for other hitters to spend time in the middle.

  • on March 26, 2014, 0:52 GMT

    every team have different styles and capabilities of putting runs on the board..west Indies have the best line up of players in the tourney..they will pull it together and bring back the trophy back to the Caribbean

  • mpva on March 26, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    From WI point of view, they would rather have Gayle score run a ball for whole 20 overs ! His presence unsettles opposition captain and bowlers as they know any over can go for 20+

  • VinothSam on March 26, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    Gayle is good enough only for IPL matches not for ICC matches. I wonder how he gets lucky and finds his best innings in ICC matches whereas he always gets his best innings in all IPL matches. Gayle please.