Gayle can storm to Top Match Batsman win


Chennai Super kings v Kings XI Punjab
Sunday November 1, 10:00

Much-needed weekend win

If CSK had shown anything like the discipline, hunger and ambition throughout the tournament that they did in beating KKR, they wouldn’t be in the position they’re in.

You could see from the players’ body language and speeches in the aftermath of that win how much it meant to them. Chief among the players showing what it means to be a CSK player was Ravi Jadeja, who played an excellent game: economical with the ball, took a wicket, played a brilliant cameo with the bat to get them over the line, which he signed off with big six. Then again, it hasn’t been the likes of Jadeja who has been the problem.

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Shane Watson has had a really poor tournament, littered with slow starts that has cost his side a lack of momentum, also wasting deliveries in the process. Faf du Plessis lost form after a good start and Dwayne Bravo looked far from fully fit and unable to be any sort of threat with the ball, let alone the bat.

But the biggest disappointment of all has been MS Dhoni himself. He’s batted a lot more than usual this year because they’ve lost so many early wickets and not once has he really played a significant knock. His keeping has been ok but, his captaincy hasn’t. It will be interesting to see if he comes back next year or calls it a day. He’s a shadow of his former self but then again, this doesn’t seem like a man happy to watch the IPL on TV in his slippers.

Heartbreak for the Kings XI?

We’re not meant to be biased around here but I’ve really grown to like the Kings XI after the last few weeks. They were absolutely dead and buried but showed real pride and determination in putting together a brilliant run of six wins that had a bit of everything: defending low totals, chasing high ones, (second) Super Over wins, you name it.

Sadly, for both of us, that run came to an end on Friday with defeat against the Royals. It certainly wasn’t looking that way for much of the game and you don’t lose many matches when you have a batsman who gets to 99 (Chris Gayle), but that’s what happened.

But they need to forget about all that, play the way they have been over the last fortnight and hope other results go their way.

It would be heart-breaking if they didn’t make it through now but the only thing they should be worrying about now is winning this game. The rest is out of their hands.

I said it ahead of their last game and I’ll say it again: a CSK side playing without pressure and greater freedom is a dangerous prospect. They’ve now put in two excellent performances over the last week, one batting first, the other one chasing.

The Kings XI can of course be excused one defeat in seven games, and are obviously pretty good form themselves.

I’d probably take CSK as 11/102.14 outsiders if I were to play this market but we can find better bets.

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Say what you like about Chris Gayle. From his self-indulgent self-created moniker, to his somewhat inappropriate post-match interviews and the fact he’s unlikely to ever run two.

He’s 41-years-old, he hadn’t played for ages and he spent the first half of the tournament in the dugout. But no-one did more during the Kings XI’s remarkable recovery than him.

His 276 runs in six knocks have come at an average of 46 and he’s reached 50 on three occasions so far, the last of which was that bitterly unlucky 99 on Friday. His strike rate of 144 is excellent and he’s hit 23 sixes; only Nicholas Pooran has hit more than him for the Kings and that was with the benefit of an extra seven games.

His 51 against KKR wasn’t quite enough to pip Mandeep Singh but that 99 clearly was enough to win Top Kings XI batsman the other day. He seems to be enjoying batting at three and seems to like these wickets in the UAE.

You can take 3/1 that he top scores for his side, or 5/1 that he’s the top batsman in the match. In light of the fact that only Ruturaj Gaikwad is in any sort of form for CSK, and I prefer to take the latter.

The fact that Imran Tahir is 5/2 to be Chennai Top Batsman when he’s unlikely to play means a couple of other players are available at inflated prices.

Sam Curran looks an ok price at 3/1 but doesn’t always bowls his four overs, while Deepak Chahar has been consistently good and has taken two wickets on numerous occasions.

Lungi Ngidi won it last time and has a career strike rate of 14.3, which is superb. We can’t let a price like that go unbacked and it’s unlikely that he’ll be left out after bowling well last time in a winning cause. So we back to back the big South African.